Carbon-Monoxide Screenings Set To Mark Smokeout

Free Test Detects Harmful Toxins In Cigarette Smokers

November 14, 2002

Older smokers are encouraged to try to quit on Thursday, Nov. 21, to mark the Great American Smokeout -- It’s Never Too Late to Quit. The annual event is organized by the American Cancer Society and this year, there is a special effort to help long-time smokers who want to make another quit attempt.

The Smoking Research Program at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center will offer free carbon monoxide screenings to determine the level of toxins in a smoker’s system. They are scheduled for: ? 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Greece Town Hall, 1 Vince Tofany Blvd. ? 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Corning Senior Center, 1 Park Lane. ? 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at the American Cancer Society headquarters, 6725 Lyons St., East Syracuse.

 “Many people consider quitting smoking each year as part of the Great American Smokeout because they know it’s better for their health,” said Deborah Ossip-Klein, Ph.D., director of the Smoking Research Program. “And for midlife and older smokers, the carbon monoxide test can help reinforce the importance of trying to quit again.”

Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known to cause cancer. Many of these chemicals are added in the processes of tobacco farming and cigarette production. The tobacco burns while a cigarette is smoked, exposing the smoker to the harmful chemicals, tar and gases.

Smoking researchers are also looking for midlife and older smokers to participate in a free study to measure what interventions help them quit smoking. The $900,000 study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is called Project 50+ -- aimed at people 50 and older who have seriously tried to quit in the last four years.

“There is often a perception that once you reach a certain age it really doesn’t matter if you quit, but that’s not true,” said Ossip-Klein, the study’s principal investigator. “The risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting extend across the life span. People who quit smoking at all ages live longer, healthier lives.”

Researchers hope to enroll 1,200 smokers in the study and follow their attempts to quit for 18 months. Ossip-Klein says that most smokers need to make multiple quit-attempts before they finally succeed. Long-term habits take some time to change, and nicotine is a very addicting substance, especially after years of use. During any given one-year period, about one-third of all smokers try to quit but fewer than 10 percent actually do. However, if you track smokers over their lifetime, more than 50 percent do ultimately succeed, Ossip-Klein says.

“Each quit attempt provides the smoker with practice that will lead to success. The message is to try again until you succeed,” says Ossip-Klein. “We have spoken with hundreds of people who have quit and the one common thread they report is the tremendous sense of satisfaction and pride. They believe in themselves and feel that, ‘If I can quit smoking, I can do anything.’”

Participants in Project50+ will receive an updated self-help manual designed for smokers ages 50 and over, access to a telephone quit-line, a website with web chat for internet users, and varying levels of telephone contact. All contact with the project will be by telephone and mail, and participants do not need to attend any classes or meetings. Smokers ages 50 or older interested in participating should call 1-888-222-3993. Researchers are seeking smokers from Cayuga, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties. Information is also available at www.p50plus.org. # # #

Note: Below are smoking cessation facts and tips, courtesy of the Smoking Research Program at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.  Older smokers are less likely to try to quit, but when they do try, they are more likely to succeed. ?If a smoker can give up cigarettes for 24 hours, he or she doubles the chance for permanent success.  Quitting at age 50 cuts the risk in half of developing any type of cancer later in life. Even if you have pre-cancerous cellular changes in your body, quitting smoking can reverse that process.  Make a plan for quitting. Talk to a physician about strategies such as cold turkey versus a nicotine patch, gum or inhaler.  Tell friends, family and co-workers that you plan to quit and rally them to help you stick with it.  Avoid risky situations or behaviors, and remove triggers such as ashtrays and lighters.  Remind yourself why you are quitting and reward yourself every day you forego cigarettes.

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Leslie White
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