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July 28,
2003

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Trying to kick the habit? Help's available

With the statewide ban on smoking in public places going into effect July 24, smokers who are considering trying to quit can get help from the smoking cessation experts at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and the Medical Center.

"People are sometimes motivated to quit smoking by external forces such as this new law, a hike in the cigarette tax, or another significant event," says Deborah Ossip-Klein, director of the Wilmot Cancer Center Smoking Research Program. "But smokers know that it's very difficult to quit, and we offer the education, encouragement and help they may need to be successful."

The recent expansion of the 1989 Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in nearly all public and work places, is designed to ensure that people can work, shop, and dine without exposure to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that second-hand smoke causes approximately 62,000 deaths among nonsmokers each year.

"We applaud this new law as it helps protect people from the dangerous carcinogens in cigarette smoke. We hope that smokers take this opportunity to try to quit, for their own sake," Ossip-Klein says.

Ossip-Klein notes that during any given one-year period, about one-third of all smokers try to quit but fewer than 10 percent succeed. However, tracking smokers over a lifetime shows that more than 50 percent do ultimately succeed.

"Each quit attempt provides the smoker with practice that will lead to success. The message is to try again until you succeed," says Ossip-Klein. "We have spoken with hundreds of people who have quit and the one common thread they report is the tremendous sense of satisfaction and pride. They believe in themselves and feel that, 'If I can quit smoking, I can do anything.'"

There are many other resources for smokers of all ages who are trying to quit. The New York State Quitline offers a variety of information materials by calling 1-888-609-6292 or visiting www.nysmokefree.org.

For teenagers, Wilmot smoking experts lead the online chats for gottaquit.com, Monroe County's smoking cessation program. They also have a special research program for long-term, older smokers, called Project 50+. For information about this program call x3-3871, 1-888-222-3993 (toll free) or visit www.p50plus.org.

Also at the Medical Center, the Rochester Tobacco Treatment Center is offering a free intensive smoking cessation program for select BlueChoice members of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Rochester Region. For more information, call 922-7671.



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