OLEAN - Quitting smoking is not just something to put on your list of New Year's resolutions to try for a week or two. Quitting smoking is a life change that takes planning, preparation, courage and determination. According to a poll conducted by the Legacy Foundation, twice as many smokers made a New Year's resolution to quit smoking in 2013 compared to 2012. The primary reasons for deciding to quit were the cost of cigarettes and concerns about the health risks of smoking.
While nearly 70 percent of smokers' report they want to quit, most smokers who make a New Year's resolution to quit don't stay smoke free for very long. A study by the University of Scranton found that about 45 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions but only 8 percent are successful in achieving them.
Donna Kahm, President and CEO of Southern Tier Health Care System, said smokers should plan how they will quit and build a personal support system for themselves before they try to quit smoking.
"Quitting smoking is very difficult but fortunately, help is available," she said. "Smokers should contact the New York State Smokers' Quitline or talk to their doctor for advice, support and possibly medication to give themselves the best chance for success. Medicaid can even help with the cost of medication."
Quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to reduce his or her risk of cancer. According to an American Cancer Society estimate, 60 percent of cancers could be avoided if people stopped using tobacco. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New York State, taking more than 25,000 lives every year.
Tobacco Cessation Center Coordinator Erica Sebastian urged smokers to look beyond making a New Year's resolution to quit.
"Quitting smoking takes a lot of work and resolve," she said. "Make a plan, get support and keep trying until you succeed."
For a free personalized quit plan, contact the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or www.nysmokefree.com. The Quitline can offer a variety of resources and support including phone coaching, automatic quit messages to your cell phone, landline or email, a free starter kit of nicotine replacement medications for eligible smokers and stop smoking medication discount cards.
For more information about the Tobacco Cessation Center at Southern Tier Health Care System, please visit www.sthcs.org or call Sebastian, Tobacco Cessation Center Coordinator, at 372-0614.