With COVID-19 cases increasing across the Capital Region, there is no better time than now to quit smoking. That’s why St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP) Community Health Programs is reaching out to the community to encourage residents to take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on November 19.
“Cigarette smoking affects nearly every organ in the body, causing many diseases and affecting the overall health of the smoker and people around them,” said Anna Samedova, DO, MPH, MBS, of Saugerties Wellness Center, a practice of St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates. “No amount of tobacco is safe and quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health. You can quit smoking and talking to your doctor can be the first step toward a tobacco-free life.”
Although it’s not known yet if smoking cigarettes or vaping increases your risk for serious complications from COVID-19, it has been widely proven that smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness.
According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), smoking cigarettes can also cause inflammation and cell damage throughout the body, and can weaken your immune system, making it less able to fight off disease.
Andy Rumpelt was a smoker for 25 years. Concern over COVID-19 was just one of the reasons why he decided to quit.
“I realized how much time I was wasting smoking. I was also tired of smelling like smoke; tired of opening windows or putting a fan in a window during winters to air out my place; tired of spending so much money on cigarettes; tired of getting chest colds and taking forever to get over them; and worried about the risks if I caught COVID,” said Rumpelt. Once he had that realization, Rumpelt reached out to his doctor to discuss ways to quit. He’s now on the cessation medication Chantix, and has been smoke-free for three months. His advice to anyone looking to quit: “If for no one else, do it for yourself.”
Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world, killing an estimated 480,000 people a year. While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades, it’s estimated more than 32 million American adults still smoke cigarettes. That doesn’t include e-cigarettes, which have skyrocketed in popularity.
“No matter how long you’ve been smoking, quitting can drastically improve your health immediately, and over the long-term,” said Erin Sinisgalli, director of Community Health Programs for SPHP. “Quitting is a process. It can take time, but you don’t have to quit on day one. The Great American Smokeout encourages you to begin your journey and to take the first steps toward a smoke-free life. If you aren’t sure how to start, talk with your doctor.”
SPHP’s Community Health Programs supports several programs aimed at helping you successfully break the habit.
Tobacco cessation opportunities:
The Butt Stops Here – A FREE, Virtual Smoking Cessation Program
- Seven, one-hour sessions starting:
- November 24th at 7 p.m.
- December 2nd at 7 p.m.
- December 5th at 10 a.m.
- For more info: https://www.sphp.com/classes-and-events/the-butt-stops-here—virtual-program
Nicotine gum giveaway
- FREE, three-month supply
- Contact NYS Smokers Quitline