Local resources look to aide in resolutions to quit smoking

This March 28, 2019 photo shows cigarette butts in an ashtray in New York. On Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

This March 28, 2019 photo shows cigarette butts in an ashtray in New York. On Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

SCHENECTADY – A common resolution in the new year is to quit smoking, and whether it is cigarettes, vaping or tobacco in another form it may appear a daunting challenge, but local experts and resources may be able to assist.

Quitting smoking, like many New Year’s resolutions, can be a difficult task to stick to. Local experts explain those trying to quit should not be too hard on themselves if this year’s resolution does not stand.

“Mark Twain said ‘it’s easy to quit smoking,’ he did it hundreds of times,” Tobacco Treatment Specialist with Ellis Medicine and retired respiratory therapist John White said. “So it’s not easy. Smoking is bad in all kinds of ways, it affects every bodily system.”

The medical conditions and ill-health effects of smoking have long been publicly known; lung diseases like emphysema, increased risk of stroke, heart disease and certain cancers, issues with reproductive health and the health of newborns whose parents smoke are just few of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions list of the health effects of smoking.

White administers, The Butt Stops Here, a local tobacco cessation program developed by St. Peters Health Partners in 2001. The program helps smokers to understand the reasons they smoke.

People smoke because of three primary reasons, White explained; biology, habits and psychology. Changing habits, Nicotine patches or gum and changing the thought process around smoking as some of the many tools a person can use when they are quitting.

“There’s a lot of little things you can do to distract yourself, move the cigarettes away from your easy chair at home, take them out of the car,” White said. “There’s a lot of little tricks you can do to distract you and delay you from having that next smoke.”

The US has an estimated 30.8 million adult smokers, as of 2020, about 12.5% of the adult population, according to the CDC. Tobacco use is considered to be the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Annually about half of a million Americans die prematurely of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and an additional 16 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking according to the CDC.

The amount of adults smoking in local counties is fairly close to the national numbers. According to the latest numbers from the New York State Department of Health from 2018; 11.3% of adults are smokers in Schenectady County, 11.6% of adults are smokers in Albany County and 12.5% of adults are smokers in Saratoga County.

The US Food and Drug Administration reports large numbers of smokers want to quit. In 2015 an estimated nearly 70% of current adult smokers reported wanting to quit, according to the FDA. In 2018 about 55% of adult smokers had made an attempt to quit smoking in the past year, but only about 8% were successful in quitting for six-to-12 months.

The New York State Smokers’ Quitline (Quitline) encourages those who smoke or vape to make a quit-attempt in 2023 – whether it is their first time or they are trying to quit again. Quitline is a service of the New York State Department of Health. It is one of the first and busiest state quitlines in the nation and has responded to nearly 3 million calls since it began operating in 2000. New York State residents can call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or text QUITNOW to 333888 for coaching and resources, free of charge, seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m.

Psychiatric nurse and tobacco treatment specialist Rosanna Aulino is a member of Quitline’s Healthcare Professional Task Force. She explained it usually takes a number of attempts for a person to be successful at quitting.

“It takes the average person seven-to-10 attempts to be successful at quitting,” Aulino said. “People shouldn’t beat themselves up if they’re on attempt five and it doesn’t happen. You increase your chances of success by 50% if you’re using some type of nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum, patches etc.)”

Nicotine is “probably the most addictive” substance, Aulino explained. Smoking is an efficient vehicle for nicotine to get into the body, she said.

“I’ve worked with a fair amount of substance abusers, and more than one of them has told me that it’s easier to get off of Heroin than it is to get off of nicotine,” Aulino said. “

It is possible for a person to quit smoking. The CDC reports that as of 2022, there are more adults who are former smokers than there are who currently smoke.

Categories: -News-, News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply