LiveSmart: Make This November 15 the Time You Quit Smoking for Good!

[This piece was written by Erin Sinisgalli, director of St. Peter’s Health Partners Community Health Programs.]

Thursday, November 15, 2018, is the 41st anniversary of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. If you are a smoker, or someone you love is a smoker, the smokeout represents an opportunity to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives and initiate a smoking cessation plan.

The good news is if you quit smoking, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve smoked, or how long you have smoked. Even after years of neglect, your body will begin to repair itself:

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop just 20 minutes after quitting.
  • The carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal just 12 hours after quitting.
  • In two to three weeks your lung function improves and walking is easier.
  • Within one to nine months your lungs will start to regain normal function, with a decrease in coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Within one year, your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
  • In two to five years, your risk of stroke can fall to a non-smoker’s level.
  • Five years after quitting your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancers are halved, and cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.

Statistics show you’re more likely to quit if you have a plan. There’s no single best way to quit and not everyone will be successful using the same products. For some, over-the-counter nicotine-replacement products such as patches, gum and lozenges provide the assistance needed to decrease nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Others may need prescription products to help them over the hurdle.

It is helpful to consult with your primary health care provider for guidance with these products. Your doctor is a key ally in helping you determine what approach will work best. Remember that most people try many times and with a variety of products before they are able to give up smoking permanently, so don’t give up!

To assist in the journey, St. Peter’s Health Partners offers a seven-week program, The Butt Stops Here, which is a combination of group support and education. The group-supported program meets weekly and is led by a St. Peter’s Health Partners facilitator.

The Butt Stops Here program is currently being offered at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany and St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy. For more information or to register, call (518) 525-1827 for the Albany program, or (518) 268-5727 for the Troy program.

For more information on the Butt Stops Here program and tobacco cessation options, visit

St. Peter’s Health Partners Community Health Programs is partially funded by grants from the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control. For more information or help quitting, please call the NYS Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit

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