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Welcome to the Fall 2022 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 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.
 
Be sure to revisit our
latest webinar, "Nicotine and Stress: A Vicious Cycle," which took place Tuesday, November 15 via WebEx. A recording is available on our YouTube channel and we kindly ask you to complete a brief evaluation afterward.
 
We are beginning to compile a new group of
success stories in advance of the New Year. The Quitline's Marketing & Outreach Team submits these stories to local news outlets and repurposes content for future newsletters. If you know anyone who successfully became nicotine-free with support from the Quitline and who may be willing to share their experience, we highly encourage you to please contact us.
Success Story:
Jim O.
 
Jim O. of New Haven, N.Y., approximately 40 miles north of Syracuse in Central New York, began using cigarettes at age 15 and tried countless times during the next 50 years to become tobacco-free. Finally, upon seeking assistance from the Quitline just after the New Year in 2014, Jim made his resolution stick.
"Receiving free nicotine patches from the Quitline did the trick for me," Jim said. "Once I used these, I learned how to quit without suffering the effects of nicotine withdrawal. It was much easier to quit this way rather than 'cold turkey.'"
 
Finding initial success was just the start of a tobacco-free journey for Jim. He needed to ensure he wouldn't relapse. Jim found inspiration through his grandchildren.
 
"A few months in, I told my grandchildren I had become tobacco-free," he said. "My granddaughter Triona, who was a young child at the time, threw her arms around me and shouted, 'I am so proud of you!' She sealed the deal for me. At that moment, I knew I'd never pick up a cigarette again."
 
Jim is 74 years old and feels healthier than ever. Food tastes better and his mental outlook on life is more positive than he can ever recall. He also is thankful he stopped smoking "just in time," as his improved health and breathing improved the outcome of a hospital stay in 2016.
 
"I slipped on ice, fell, broke eight ribs and then contracted pneumonia while I was in the hospital," Jim said. "I ended up staying in there for 26 days, but thank God I had quit smoking. Pneumonia and broken ribs were more than enough for me to handle."

 
For all those seeking to become tobacco-free, Jim offers two pieces of advice: call the Quitline and stay focused even when times get tough. "It's tough to do it alone," he said. "There are so many free resources available through the Quitline. Even just talking to someone is a step in the right direction."
Professional Profile:
John White, RRT
 
John White, RRT, serves as proof one can become a tobacco treatment specialist at any point in adult life. After 48 years as a respiratory therapist followed by a brief career in pharmaceutical sales, John retired in 2018 – only to soon join the Respiratory Health Education Program part-time at Ellis Medicine in Schenectady.
In his latest role, John administers The Butt Stops Here cessation program and assists with other related initiatives. In 2023, he aims to become a clinical educator for respiratory therapists and provide continuing education credits during travels to healthcare sites throughout the Capital Region.
 
"The first topic I wish to present is how to connect a patient with quitting services," John said. "I want to make sure the therapist knows how to get a patient connected to the Quitline and to The Butt Stops Here, as well as encourage them to practice the 5 A's. In sum,
I want to help ensure respiratory therapists know exactly what steps to take when they learn their patient smokes – and increase referrals to the Quitline."
 
John is a frequent partner and collaborator with the Quitline, and he strives to connect participants of The Butt Stops Here cessation program with the Quitline after their first group meeting. In collaboration with the Quitline, John is exploring steps to implement Opt-to-Quit™ at Ellis Medicine. The Quitline's Opt-to-Quit™ program includes the adoption of a policy to systematically identify all patients who use tobacco products. As an adjunct to the healthcare site's intervention, patients are referred to the Quitline – unless they opt out, and then contacted and offered NYSSQL services.
 
"I would one day love to help an office implement Opt-to-Quit™," John said. "It's just one example of how the Quitline is so much more than just a phone number. Everyone there is so friendly and professional. I hope more healthcare professionals will take the time to understand and partner with the Quitline."
Use Our Easy Patient Referral Program!
Coach's Corner: Lennie
 
Lennie joined the Quitline in 2019 and previously worked for the United States Postal Service. She always admired Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center – the Quitline's physical location in Buffalo, NY – and learned about work openings with the organization through the Buffalo Employment and Training Center (BETC). Lennie's experience and natural "people skills" were a perfect match to fill a need for a Quit Coach.
Lennie prides herself on being a good listener and empowering Quitline participants to discover for themselves the reasons that contribute to their smoking and/or vaping and their motivation to become nicotine-free. She understands the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing uptick in stress which led some to increase use of tobacco and vape products. This knowledge further drives Lennie's passion to help as many people as possible.
 
"I try to help participants identify what they can do to make changes in their behavior, such as ways to relax and how to fill time during a quit-attempt," Lennie said. "Sometimes they want me to answer questions, but it's my job to draw answers out of them. They will benefit in the long run from discovering and being honest about their triggers."
 
Lennie enjoys undertaking the challenges of being a Quit Coach, especially maintaining flexibility in her daily approach. She believes different motivators work for different people, but also recognizes commonalities throughout her interactions.
 
"
Most people are tired of smoking, and they know how it negatively affects their health and family," Lennie said. "It smells bad, it's expensive, it weakens breathing. Becoming nicotine-free is a challenge, but it can be achieved – and I especially love learning when participants maintain success."
Partner Power:
Makeda James, MPH 
 
Makeda James, MPH joined the Center for Health Systems Improvement in early 2021 but is no stranger to partnering with organizations for nicotine-free initiatives. She previously served with POW'R Against Tobacco in the Lower Hudson Valley Region for 15 years and brings a wealth of enthusiasm and experience to her latest role.
Makeda recognizes the parallels between her prior work under New York State's Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities (ATFC) to now focusing on health systems change.
 
"Just as ATFC works with community-based organizations and legislators to pass and implement ordinances, Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York works with healthcare organizations to implement tobacco treatment policies," she said. "My current role as Project Director is to serve as a resource hub to assist and strengthen statewide grantees through capacity-building activities such as trainings, toolkits, webinars, and more."
 
One of the latest tools Makeda and her team offers is a guide titled, Treating Tobacco Use Disorder in Behavioral Health Populations: Innovative Approaches and Uses of Approved Medications. They also developed a creative animated short video to promote the resource.
"It's all about delivering a message that resonates, for the purpose of improving health outcomes," Makeda said. "We especially want to drive home the seven key messages for behavioral health professionals to consider when implementing tobacco dependence treatments for their patients."
 
This guide and video is just one example of a way the Center for Health Systems Improvement aims to build knowledge and save valuable time for overburdened healthcare professionals. "Our continued challenge is to change perspectives," Makeda said. "
Tobacco-use is a root cause of so many other health issues and should be prioritized."
 
Makeda and her team frequently partner with the Quitline to promote available free resources for healthcare professionals and their patients. In Makeda's view, the more healthcare professionals understand what the Quitline offers, the more likely they may be to prioritize addressing tobacco use during their interactions with patients.
 
"Healthcare professionals should understand the Quitline is a long-standing trusted resource and consistently achieves successful outcomes," she said. "Healthcare professionals should reframe their thinking to believe quit-attempts can achieve success, and they should build working relationships with the Quitline to exchange information and help each other."
 
To connect with Makeda, please contact her at mjames@caiglobal.org. 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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