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.
Clinton County went tobacco-free in July except at the Clinton County Airport, which has a designated smoking section, and sites where there are already policies in place: the landfill, Clinton Community College and the County Fairgrounds.
Essex County has been tobacco-free since November 2011 except for its County Fairgrounds in Westport and at designated areas at the main county campus and the Public Works and Transportation building in Elizabethtown and the Public Safety Building in Lewis.
The State Department of Health attributes a 35 percent decline in adult smoking to programs aimed at youths.
“Efforts to help smokers quit and keep kids from starting to smoke will continue to have a major impact on the health of New York state now and in the future,” Gold said.
“We hope smokers use the Great American Smoke Out as a day to take stock of their lives and tobacco’s impact on their health and wallet and commit to making a change.”
Reach the State Smokers Quitline can be reached at (866) NY-QUITS or at www.nysmokefree.com.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org
COME OUT FOR THE SMOKE OUT
Local activities planned to coincide with the Great American Smoke Out on Thursday include:
- A call-in radio program at 10 a.m. on WIRY in Plattsburgh featuring Margot Gold of the Healthy Heart Network and Reality Check Coordinator Dana Isabella offering tips and answering questions about quitting smoking.
- Members of Reality Check will also be at Champlain Centre North near the Food Court from 5 to 7 p.m. to promote their non-smoking message and to gather personal stories from former smokers on how they quit and the advice and tips they would share with others trying to do the same.
- At the same time, members of the College Against Cancer campaign of the American Cancer Society will also have a table nearby to hand out anti-tobacco information.
- International Paper in Ticonderoga will welcome Gold as a guest between 1 and 3:30 p.m., when she will be available to meet with any of the 600 employees who want to learn more about quitting smoking and/or chewing tobacco or to share their success stories.
For more information, contact the North Country Healthy Heart Network at 891-5855 or at www.heartnetwork.org.