Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY

The Tobacco Cessation Center of Western New York is one of many agencies that is in danger of funding cuts in Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget this year. 

The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY has been serving Erie, Niagara, Genessee and Orleans counties since 2005. They provide training to healthcare providers so they can talk to and treat patients who are thinking about quitting smoking. Staff members will come right to your office to provide the training and the materials you need. Beyond that, The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY offers workshops, support groups and other outreach to the community to help smokers quit and stay smoke free.

“There is help and resources out there for people who are trying to quit smoking. Many people forget they can talk to their doctor about it. That is the best place to start.” – Staff member, Heather Bashaw told me.

The NY State Smokers Quitline (1-866-NY-QUITS) is a free service to everyone in the state that can offer support and potentially free supplies of patches to help smokers quit. Some insurance providers will also pay for the patches so if you are thinking about quitting, contact your insurance company & contact your health provider as starting points.

As I met with Heather at the Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY offices (located on the Roswell Park campus), it became even more apparent to me how important small, grassroots organizations like The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY are to our community. When trying to quit smoking, it is incredibly hard to quit cold turkey. In fact, only 7% of people who try to quit cold turkey actually end up quitting. By getting a health care professional involved, the number jumps to 30%!

Heather told me that the WNY healthcare community has been very receptive to the programs and services offered by The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY. Currently, doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists and dental hygienists are receiving continuing education credits for participating in the trainings. The materials provided make it easy for healthcare professionals to talk to their clients about quitting. “In an initial three to five minute talk with patients, doctors can incredibly increase the chances of getting them to quit smoking.”

You can check out a You Tube video from the organization, HERE

Here are some overwhelming statistics on smoking:

* Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in NYS. In 2012, over 25,000 died prematurely because of tobacco use.

* Smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the US each year and costs the healthcare industry $193 billion annually.

* Poor smokers spend ¼ of their household income on cigarettes.

* The smoking rate in Erie County is 26.7%. It is highest in Orleans County at 29.9%. The smoking rate in all of NYS is 17%. (Western New York has some work to do in getting those numbers down!)

* The top three preventable causes of death: 1) Smoking, 2) Obesity, 3) Second hand smoke

(Statistics courtesy of The Tobacco Cessation Center Of WNY)

The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY is an organization that helps everyone in New York State. Whether you smoke, or not, everyone is affected by tobacco use. Second and third hand smoke are increasing the numbers of those affected by tobacco, and without these organizations in place to help reduce the number of smokers, our air quality and overall health will continue to be negatively affected. 

CALL FOR ACTION: As the finalized budget date gets closer, I urge you to contact your local legislators and tell them how important The Tobacco Cessation Center of WNY is to the area. Investing in tobacco control NOW will ultimately save money in the long run AND save lives! As it stands right now, New York State is only spending 17.5% of what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recommends be spent. 17.5%!!! No wonder people have such a hard time quitting! If you would like more information on the "State of Tobacco Control", check out New York's annual grades, posted by The American Lung Assocation, HERE.

If you are a smoker, reach out and get the help to quit. You can do it! The resources are available to help you make a life changing decision. It will not only save your life, but improve the lives of those around you. 

“If people don’t smoke, it’s basically creating a vaccine of sorts for cancer.” – Heather told me. She couldn’t be more right!  

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