ERIE COUNTY, NY— For Erie County residents who are thinking about quitting smoking, November 21 could be the first day of a healthier, smoke-free life.
The Great American Smokeout is an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. To prepare for the occasion this year, Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) staff will distribute educational resources and a free two-week supply of nicotine replacement patches to interested residents on Wednesday, November 20 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Central Branch (Downtown).
“It’s fitting that the Great American Smokeout takes place during November, which is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women in the United States, and cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer.”
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for one in five deaths annually. “If you do not smoke or vape, don’t start. And if you do smoke or use tobacco or vaping products, our department has resources to help you quit,” continued Dr. Burstein.
Also happening in November, New York State “Tobacco 21” legislation limited the sale of tobacco and vaping products to individuals ages 21 and older as of November 13, 2019. ECDOH and its Division of Environmental Health have been enforcing this law through its inspections and compliance checks under the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act.
According to the New York State Department of Health, Erie County has led New York State (NYS; with the exception of New York City) with more tobacco and vaping retail dealer inspections than any other NYS county in the eight weeks leading up to the Tobacco 21 legislation taking effect. So far in 2019, ECDOH sanitarians have completed 912 compliance checks and found 44 violations of tobacco/vape sales to minors.
“Tobacco and vaping products contain nicotine, a highly addictive stimulant that can harm brain development in children and adolescents into their 20s and make them more susceptible to developing other drug use disorders,” explained Dr. Burstein. “State legislation like Tobacco 21 and its enforcement by local health departments like ours will keep these products out of the hands and lungs of young people.”