Op-Ed: New Years resolutions

Many people make resolutions for the New Year, such as planning to make healthier eating choices or beginning a regular exercise regimen. As Pennsylvanians consider their New Year’s resolutions for 2009, I encourage those who smoke or use other tobacco products to make this the year they finally quit — for good. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in our society.

Approximately 2 million adults in Pennsylvania — nearly one in five people — still smoke. Since Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Act went into effect Sept. 11, 2008, smoking is prohibited in most public places, including restaurants, workplaces and a portion of casino floors. Although smoking rates and cigarette sales have fallen considerably since 2002, there is more work to be done.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to help Pennsylvanians live tobacco-free. Last year, 58 percent of adult smokers attempted to quit for at least one day. The number of quit attempts grows each year. This is good news because we know that for many tobacco users, quitting isn’t easy and often requires more than one attempt in order to succeed. We have created resources, including www.DeterminedToQuit.com and Pennsylvania’s Free Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), to provide free cessation techniques, counseling options and structured assistance for individuals committed to quitting.

Our Web site features a variety of tools to help Pennsylvania smokers, including cessation tips, smoking statistics, an online quit companion, a video blog of real Pennsylvanians sharing their quit attempts and information on how friends and families of smokers can provide support. The Free Quitline offers help 24 hours a day. You can get a personalized quit plan that includes free, one-on-one calls with a supportive coach.

While you are considering your New Year’s resolution, don’t be afraid to let your loved ones know what you’re thinking about doing so that they can encourage and support your success. Check out the cessation resources available from your Department of Health. Together, we can make 2009 the year you become tobacco-free.

Everette James Acting Secretary of Health Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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