SARANAC LAKE — Tobacco users can commit to quit as part of the Great American Smoke Out on Thursday then take until Jan. 1 to stop for good.
The event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, encourages smokers and others to make a plan to quit or just stop cold that day.
A new approach embraced by the Smoking Cessation Center of the North Country Healthy Heart Network gives smokers and tobacco chewers time to make a plan to quit and to talk to their doctor about available medications and other methods to help them be successful.
“We like to reframe the Great American Smoke Out to making a commitment to stop smoking on Jan. 1, 2014,” said the agency’s Executive Director Margot Gold.
She said the longer deadline between Nov. 21 and Dec. 31 also gives the person a chance to seek support and guidance from the New York State Smokers Quitline “so they are prepared for Jan. 1,” she said.
FAR ABOVE STATE AVERAGE
To help them quit, some callers may be eligible for two weeks of free supplies, such as patches, gums or lozenges, which typically cost $40 to $50 per kit.
This is the 38th year the Great American Smoke Out has been observed, but advocates say the North Country has as many as 50 percent more smokers than the state average.
A 2009 report from the State Health Department found Franklin County had the second-highest smoking rate in the the state.
Chemung County had the highest rate at 30.8 percent, and Franklin County had 30.7 percent.
The state average was 17 percent.
The report stated that Clinton County’s rate was 21.7 percent, and Essex County’s was 24.2 percent.
Gold and other cessation advocates asked Franklin County legislators to form a committee last summer to make all county property tobacco-free, and Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) has tried to keep the idea moving forward.