New Report: One Out of Five Adults Smokes in Upstate New York

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — About one out of every five adults smokes in upstate New York, and about 61 percent of them have tried to quit their habit, according to a report released today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Smokers will have another chance to quit tobacco on the Great American Smokeout, which is Thursday, Nov. 19. The goal of the Smokeout is to encourage smokers to quit on that day in the hopes that they will quit for good.

In the Central New York region, about 179,000 people — or 21.7 percent of adults — smoke, according to the report, “Cigarette Smoking and Costs Among Upstate New York Adults.”

“For someone addicted to smoking, quitting can be a formidable challenge,” said Dr. Arthur Vercillo, regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

The good news is that smoking rates have decreased in the Central New York region and throughout upstate New York. According to the report:
• The upstate New York adult smoking rate declined from 25.5 percent in 2003 to 21.4 percent in 2007. The Central New York rate declined from 27.6 percent to 21.7 percent during this time;

• About 818,000 adults smoked in upstate New York in 2007, and about 61 percent of them said they tried to quit in the last 12 months;

• Adult smokers in upstate New York account for about $1.7 billion in excess medical costs annually, including $356.4 million in the Central New York region.

“We are encouraged that the adult smoking rate in upstate New York is declining, especially since smokers are more likely to develop serious medical conditions such as lung and heart diseases that can hurt their quality of life,” Vercillo said.

The following resources are available to smokers looking to quit during and after the Smokeout:
• Call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1 (866) NY-QUITS;

• Excellus BCBS’s Quit for Life program offers eligible members help quitting tobacco, including access to quit coaches and free nicotine replacement products. Call 1 (800) 442-8904 to enroll.

To access the smoking report, go to www.excellusbcbs.com and click on “Policy and Research.”