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Quick Quips
 
Welcome to the Fall 2020 issue of Quitters Always Win! – a periodical
e-newsletter from the New York State Smokers' Quitline (Quitline) devoted to the human stories behind its team members, partners, and those who receive our tobacco cessation services.
 
We always appreciate your ideas and suggestions for future stories and/or ways to make the content even more relevant to meet your tobacco dependence treatment needs. Reach out anytime to Tony Astran, Public Information Specialist, at anthony.astran@roswellpark.org or 716-845-8239.

 
Please join members of the Quitline’s Marketing & Outreach Team and Susan Urban, MD, FACP, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine for a webinar on Thursday, October 15 at 11 a.m. titled Chew on This: How Accessing Nicotine Gum in Combination with the Nicotine Patch Bolsters Tobacco Cessation. This webinar offers 1.0 credit of Continuing Medical Education (CME). Please click here to register.
Thanks to an unprecedented donation from telehealth company Ro, tobacco and vape-product users can receive up to three months of free nicotine replacement gum for a limited time!

Tell your patients about this offer and refer them to the Quitline! Resources are available at nysmokefree.com to spread the word to your colleagues. Please help us get the nicotine gum in as many hands as possible of people who smoke or vape. Thank you.
Success Story:
Ellen W.
 
Ellen W. of Merrick, N.Y. in Nassau County, now 63, tried cigarettes as a teenager and smoked for more than 40 years. Despite using cigarettes, she had always felt athletic. On October 3, 2018, that feeling changed.
"I woke up that morning and all of a sudden had trouble breathing," Ellen recalled. "I ended up in the hospital and learned I had COPD and suffered from malnutrition. This was a wake-up call for me. I decided right then to never pick up a cigarette again and called the Quitline soon after I returned home."
 
The Quitline's Quit Coaches assisted Ellen in creating and sticking to a quit-plan, and they also shipped her a starter kit of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Nicotine gum ultimately worked as the best NRT choice to treat her nicotine dependence.
 
In addition to receiving support from the Quitline, Ellen gains encouragement during weekly sessions with a therapist, who happens to be a former smoker. She now enjoys traveling to faraway places – long distances were previously a deterrent due to smoke-free policies aboard airplanes. Ellen also added a papillon puppy to her family and enjoys walks together.
 
"I am thankful and grateful for the Quitline," she said. "I recommend all smokers give their services a try.
Being smoke-free is a freeing feeling, and the benefits will overcome any type of anxiety. It's never too late to quit."
 
Be sure to watch Ellen's testimonial about the effectiveness of nicotine gum in our latest episode of New York QuitCast!
Professional Profile:
Susan Urban, MD, FACP
 
Susan Urban, MD, FACP has many years of clinical experience in healthcare but only took an active focus in tobacco cessation during the last decade. She's very glad she did.
Susan is a board-certified internist and part of the faculty at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Approximately 10 years ago, she received a grant to create a web-based module on smoking cessation and behavioral change. Fast-forward to today: the module continues to be part of the medical student curriculum.
 
Throughout 2020, Susan presented webinars on medications for smoking cessation and clinical updates on e-cigarettes for the New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Society of General Internal Medicine. She will be the featured presenter in an upcoming Quitline webinar on October 15, as described above in the Quick Quips section of this newsletter.
 
"I always had a lot of curiosity about tobacco cessation and also thought there was a great need to educate students and clinicians," Susan said. "There is great treatment available for treating nicotine dependence, but the challenge is getting other healthcare professionals to prescribe it and tobacco users to take it."
 
At a foundational level, Susan believes the words healthcare professionals say are so powerful for encouraging patients to become tobacco-free. She points to the "5 A's" outlined in the recent Surgeon General's Report on Smoking Cessation as a reference, but understands healthcare professionals are often strapped for time.
 
"Referring takes less than a minute," Susan said. "Even advising can take less than a minute. Create an approach that's brief, to the point, and easy to remember. Just always say something.
When you consistently mention quitting all tobacco products to your patients, chances are it'll have an effect even if it seems like they're not receptive at first."
 
Susan believes that while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic understandably takes precedence right now for all things related to healthcare, professionals cannot lose sight of other issues – particularly smoking. She points to recent studies which suggest an increased association between smoking and severity of COVID-19 illness. "For healthcare professionals, this is the time to talk about tobacco even more," Susan said. "For tobacco users, this is really the time to quit."
 
In a world of increased precautions and physical distancing, Susan said partnering with the Quitline has more utility than ever before.
 
"Even if you're well-versed in tobacco cessation, you should still advocate for the Quitline," she said. "To help with the 5 A's or even Ask-Advise-Connect,
I highly recommend working with the Quitline to implement a policy in your EMR (electronic medical records) system. It makes things so easy, so quick, and so effective. Finally, just as smoking affects all aspect of health, I think every type of healthcare professional needs to learn about the Quitline and the services they offer. That means internists, cardiologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, mental health specialists – everyone."
 
Susan exhibits an undeniable enthusiasm for tobacco cessation education and is a member of the Quitline's Healthcare Professional Task Force. The Quitline is fortunate and grateful to partner with a dedicated tobacco-free champion who is always willing to share her knowledge and time.
Coach's Corner: Greg
 
While Quit Coaches at the Quitline are highly trained and practice motivational interviewing techniques with clients, not everyone is highly energetic or talkative. Take Greg, for example. He may appear soft-spoken and concise with his words; however, he is nevertheless highly effective in assisting tobacco-users to follow through with their desire to quit. Like many in Buffalo, N.Y. – the Quitline's physical location – Greg is a blue-collar type of person who rolls up his sleeves and works tirelessly to help those in need.
Greg joined the team in late 2018 and previously worked in a related role at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for more than three years. He has a strong desire to help people improve their health and became inspired to join Roswell Park through his brother, a longtime employee in the organization.
 
"It's fascinating each day to help all types of people from different regions of the state," Greg said. "I try to be laid-back and help people focus on their motivation. I encourage them to think about what worked in their previous quit-attempts, rather than failures or slip-ups.
My goal is to create a
no-pressure environment and help others find their way.
"
 
Like others at the Quitline, Greg continues to adjust to the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. While working remotely provides comfort in his home and less hassle from no longer commuting via public transportation, he misses being able to have instant in-person discussions with fellow Quit Coaches and supervisors. Greg says, however, his challenges pale in comparison to those currently trying to quit smoking.
 
"We're certainly noticing people seem more motivated than ever to quit, given their desire to be healthier and to be able to fight off COVID-19 if they get it," he said. "At the same time, some people say the heightened feelings of isolation and boredom drive them to smoke more or to start smoking again."
 
Despite these unprecedented times, Greg knows the goal remains the same: empower others to develop a quit-plan for curbing their tobacco-use or quitting altogether, which will result in a much better quality of life for themselves and their loved ones.
 
"During a recent follow-up call, I was so happy to learn the client had become tobacco-free with the Quitline's assistance," Greg said. "He said his success made a huge difference for his family's daily life, because they were no longer breathing in secondhand smoke. This is why I do what I do."
Partner Power:
Erin Sinisgalli, MPH, MCHES 
 

As the director for St. Peter's Health Partners Community Health Programs, Erin Sinisgalli, MPH, MCHES leads a team promoting health systems change throughout Albany and the Capital Region. Because St. Peter's Health Partners has more than 170 locations as well as partnerships with other organizations, Erin believes these many resources ultimately provide an advantage for tobacco-users looking to quit.
"In this region, it's all about making connections," she said. "With St. Peter's Health Partners and other large networks in the area, there's quite a bit of access to specialty health services."
 
Nevertheless, not every healthcare organization has a trained tobacco cessation specialist on staff. That's where Erin and her team can lend assistance.
 
"We're like a one-stop-shop, providing easy access to comprehensive resources," said Erin, referring to St. Peter's Health Partners' work as a regional contractor for Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York. "Doctor's offices may get visits for pharmaceuticals, but usually for very little related to quitting smoking. So instead, we can be the ones to help provide unbiased resources – things like information about the Quitline, access to nicotine replacement therapy, and guidance for implementing tobacco-use screening and referral policies within EMRs."
 
Even with the many resources available, Erin and her team seek to empower healthcare organizations to become more knowledgeable about treating tobacco dependence. Whether it's a short training on coaching patients or a major undertaking to set up EMR referrals to the Quitline, the team ultimately wants to make things easier and uncomplicated for healthcare professionals.
 
During this year of the pandemic, Erin understands the unique challenges related to tobacco cessation but also sees opportunities. To illustrate this point, St. Peter's Health Partners' "The Butt Stops Here" cessation program achieved record numbers for participation. Program coordinators now offer virtual trainings to help healthcare professionals run similar programs.
 
"
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly can offer some people more time to focus on quitting, as well as another major reason to quit," she said. "On the flipside, having more time for some means more time to purchase and smoke cigarettes. The lack of in-person visits to healthcare professionals is also troubling. Face-to-face interventions are so powerful."
 
Challenging times like these are exactly why the Quitline is more essential than ever, according to Erin. She applauds the Quitline for their knowledge and expertise with referrals and EMR systems, as well as their accountability for thorough patient care and follow-ups.
 
"It bears repeating to all types of healthcare professionals: remember that people often need multiple attempts before they achieve success," Erin said. "Tell your patients to try calling the Quitline again. Write another script for medication. Be persistent."
 
To connect with Erin, please contact her at Erin.Sinisgalli@sphp.com. For more information about the program components within New York State's Tobacco Control Program, click here.
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The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a service of the New York State Department of Health and based at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
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New York State Smokers' Quitline · Carlton & Elm Streets · Buffalo, NY 14203 · USA

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