To the editor:
As chief nursing officer for Adirondack Health, I would like to stress the importance of the New York State Tobacco Control Program. Everyone has been told things like, "Smoking is bad," "You should quit," "That stuff is going to kill you." These may seem like overused and empty statements, but the fact is they are true. Tobacco continues to be the NUMBER-ONE preventable cause of chronic disease and death in the United States. More deaths are caused by tobacco use than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. Smoking can raise your risk of heart attack or stroke 200 percent to 400 percent. If you smoke, you are 23 times more likely than a non-smoker to have lung cancer if you are a man and 13 times more likely if you are a woman.
Nicotine, delivered through cigarettes and other tobacco products, is extremely addictive and keeps people smoking even when they want to stop. I am eager to learn new ways to help Adirondack Health patients quit using tobacco products, and the North Country Tobacco Cessation Center does just that, keeps health care professionals up to date about new, effective strategies to help people stop smoking.
The Tobacco Cessation Center is just one regional program funded by the NYS Tobacco Control Program. The other two are Adirondack Tobacco Free Network and Reality Check. Both these programs work to limit locations where people are allowed to smoke, thus decreasing secondhand exposure.
If you use tobacco, quitting is THE most important thing you can do to improve your health. It's important to remember that it is NEVER too late to quit. Within your first month of being smoke-free, your risk of a heart attack drops and your lung function begins to improve.
Talk to your doctor today about the treatments and resources available, and call the NYS Smokers' Quitline which offers FREE coaching to smokers who want to quit, and provides a two-week free sample of nicotine patches to eligible callers. Call the Quitline: 1-866-NYQUITS or nysmokefree.com.
Margaret Sorensen, RN, MS, FNP, CENP
Chief nursing officer