Tobacco Policies Support Smokers Trying to Quit During the Great American Smokeout

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Smoking kills about 28,000 New York residents every year and 750,000 adults in New York State are living with a smoking-related illness. The Tobacco-Free CNY program of the Onondaga County Health Department is joining with community members to celebrate the Great American Smokeout on November 18—a national event that highlights the benefits of quitting smoking and encourages smokers to make a plan to quit.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta states, “Quitting smoking has benefits at any age; even people who have smoked for many years or have smoked heavily will benefit from quitting. Those who quit smoking will have a lower risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Quitting smoking is also the best way to protect family members, friends, and other loved ones from the risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke. The Great American Smokeout provides an opportunity for smokers to make a plan to commit to a tobacco-free lifestyle.”

Quitting smoking often takes multiple attempts before a smoker successfully quits. A big challenge for those who are attempting to quit is being exposed to secondhand smoke in a variety of settings such as parks, beaches, entertainment venues, and work sites. Research has shown that smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have more tobacco-related cravings and are less likely to successfully quit. Policy change has proven to be an effective tool to reduce tobacco use in the community and provide an environment that supports smokers who are trying to quit.

Tobacco-Free CNY Program Coordinator Karyn Johnson states, “About half of current adult smokers want to quit smoking. Many smokers who are trying to quit feel an increase in the urge to smoke if they are exposed to secondhand smoke.” Johnson continued, “Tobacco-free policies assist with the quitting process by providing tobacco-free spaces and eliminating secondhand smoke exposure. This increases the chances for a smoker to successfully quit smoking.”

The Tobacco-Free CNY program supports Central New York residents who want to live healthy, tobacco-free lives. The program encourages municipalities, employers, and property managers to pursue tobacco-free environments and assists community partners in creating, implementing, and strengthening tobacco policies. The program serves Onondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga counties. For more information about Tobacco-Free CNY, please visit our website at or call (315) 435-3280. For help with quitting, please call the New York State Quitline at 1-866-697-8487 or visit for more information.