39th Great American Smoke Out (GASO)

An article from the November 2016 issue of the NHPHA e-Newsletter
Submitted by Christin D"Ovidio, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Community Health Institute

In celebration of the 39th Great American Smoke Out (GASO), the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) began offering nicotine replacement therapy patches, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine gum through (800) QUIT-NOW and www.QuitNowNH.org at no cost to residents who are trying to quit tobacco. Additionally, DPHS re-invigorated their current campaign to raise awareness around the health consequences of exposing children to secondhand smoke. DHHS is encouraging tobacco users to quit for at least one day in the hope that this might challenge them to stop permanently. The secondhand smoke ads carry messaging about protecting kids from secondhand smoke exposure where they live, travel and play, and encourages viewers to not smoke around children and to consider quitting.

“The Great American Smoke Out is a perfect time to consider making a plan to quit tobacco use,” said Marcella Bobinsky, acting Director of the Division of Public Health Services. “NH residents can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for confidential coaching plus medications to increase their chances for success.”

In 2015, 17.5% of New Hampshire adults reported smoking but almost 65% reported wanting to quit. Ninety-nine percent of New Hampshire adults who smoke report having their first cigarette before the age of 26. Reducing the exposure of children to tobacco smoke is a priority of the Department’s, additionally the Department is concerned with youth and young adult tobacco use initiation, and this includes electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), like e-cigarettes, e-hooka, and vape products. In New Hampshire, it is illegal for youth under the age of 18 to buy or possess any type of tobacco product (including ENDS). Nicotine is addictive and has been shown to affect a young person’s developing brain by preventing normal cell development. It is also illegal for tobacco products to be used on public educational properties. In spite of this, 25 percent of high-school-age youth reported using some type of ENDS, according to the 2015New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey.

The New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA) recognizes that tobacco use is a major cause of chronic disease and premature death. Thousands of illnesses and deaths from tobacco use can be prevented and billions of dollars in medical expenses can be saved through longterm investments in a sustained campaign to prevent and control tobacco use. For this reason, NHPHA emphasizes the need to commit Tobacco Settlement Funds and/or dedicated funds to be used to promote programs and policies designed to:

·       Reduce youth access to tobacco products;

·       Decrease the population’s exposure to second hand smoke;

·       Promote quitting among tobacco users;

·       Counter pro-tobacco influences

·       Prioritize efforts to reach vulnerable populations affected by tobacco use

For more information about the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services visit www.dhhs.nh.gov. For information about the Great American Smoke Out visit www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/index. If you or someone you know would like free help quitting, visit www.QuitNowNH.org . The campaign runs through March 2017 and the nicotine replacement products are available while supplies last.
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