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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 15, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy
609-984-7160


 
New Jerseyans Urged To Participate in the Great American Smokeout


 

New Jersey's Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is encouraging New Jersey's 1.15 million smokers to give up tobacco this Thursday as part of the 30th Annual Great American Smokeout.  The 2006 Great American Smokeout is the first since New Jersey implemented the Smoke Free Air Act, ensuring that indoor public places and workplaces across the State will be smoke free.

 

Thirty years ago the American Cancer Society (ACS) sponsored the first Great American Smokeout on the Thursday before Thanksgiving to encourage smokers to give up cigarettes for the day, and ideally for good.  Many organizations, including DHSS, have joined ACS over the years as the Great American Smokeout has become an effective tool in the fight against tobacco.

 

"Employees, customers and people in public locations are now protected from the dangers of second-hand smoke, and I want to urge New Jersey's smokers to bring that same healthy atmosphere into their lives and homes," said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M. D., J.D.  "I urge all of New Jersey's 1.15 million smokers to start a tobacco-free life during the Great American Smokeout by taking advantage of New Jersey's Quitnet services."

 

In New Jersey, tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of premature death, leading to approximately 11,000 lives lost every year due to cancer, emphysema and heart disease.   Additionally, tobacco-related government programs cost New Jersey residents $555 per household in state and federal taxes annually, and more than $2.4 billion dollars in health-care expenditures.  New Jersey businesses lose $2.2 billion in productivity every year due to tobacco-related absences and illnesses.

 

A March 2006 Internet poll of 500 New Jersey smokers conducted on behalf of DHSS found that nearly three-fourths of smokers polled said they want to quit.  New Jersey's Quit Services offer a proven avenue for those who want to give up tobacco, or help a loved one do so, by providing individualized counseling to any resident. 

 

Participants at NJ's Quitcenters or on NJ Quitline are assigned a personal counselor who helps develop a unique plan to remove tobacco from their lives.  The counselor remains available to assist and provide support throughout the quitting process. 

 

This individualized and dedicated support is responsible for thousands of ex-smokers in New Jersey who had not been able to quit on their own.  Smokers who give up tobacco without support have a three percent success rate, while the NJ Quitnet support programs have a 30 percent success rate. 

 

"Quitting smoking can be a very difficult thing to do," said Dr. Jacobs.  "But it is vitally important to give up tobacco not only for smokers, but just as importantly for their loved ones at home whose quality and length of life is reduced by second-hand smoke."

 

Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 200 known poisons and, according to the National Cancer Institute, 69 known and probable cancer-causing substances.  Secondhand smoke exacerbates pediatric asthma.  Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and pregnant women who smoke risk having lower birth-weight babies.

 

Up to 62,000 adult nonsmokers die each year in the United States from second-hand smoke, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  This includes between 1,000 and 1,800 New Jersey residents.

 

New Jersey residents interested in giving up smoking themselves or helping a friend or family member can get help from NJ Quitnet on the Internet at http://www.njquitline.com, on speak to a personal counselor on the phone by calling 866-NJ STOPS (657-8677) or in person at one of the eight Quitcenters listed at http://nj.quitnet.com/library/quit-centers.jtml.

 
 
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