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Welcome to the Summer 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 join us live for our
upcoming webinar, "Addressing Tobacco and Nicotine Use," which will take place Wednesday, August 24 at 2 p.m. via WebEx. Please visit the Online News Room to learn more and to register.
 

In addition to Quitline resources and assistance from healthcare professionals, those who use tobacco and vape products can benefit from attending local cessation classes. With your help, we would like to ensure the listings of classes in your area are accurate and up-to-date on nysmokefree.com. To make additions or changes, please contact our Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, Patricia Bax, at patricia.bax@roswellpark.org or 716-845-4365.
Use Our Easy Patient Referral Program!
Success Story:
Mike S.
 
Mike S. of Staten Island, age 43, did not begin smoking until his 20's but quickly become a pack-a-day smoker due to stress and mental health issues. As the 2000s progressed, he had tried quitting "cold turkey" but had no success. Then, a turning point came at age 29.
"A friend of mine, age 42 at the time, went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with COPD," Mike said. "It was also right around then that I had woken up one morning, finished a pack of cigarettes, smoked a whole new pack and then began opening up another one. I suddenly had a moment of reflection and asked myself, 'What am I doing?' That's when I contacted the Quitline for extra support."
 
Mike spoke with a Quit Coach and discussed his goals and smoking triggers. With a listening ear on the other end of the phone, Mike felt empowered to develop a quit-plan and set a date to begin using the nicotine patch, which the Quitline shipped for free to his home address to help curb nicotine cravings. He quit gradually and had one relapse along the way but remained focused. Mike smoked his last cigarette on June 1, 2008.
 
"Cigarettes aren't really calming you down and certainly don't help your health. They're just stimulants that trick your mind," Mike said.
"The tobacco-free journey is really a biological, psychological, and social phenomenon that requires tackling all three areas. Medications can help with the cravings. Meditation can get your mind right. And finally, it's about learning to manage social stressors without reaching for a cigarette."
 
Mike said he feels like a new person ever since becoming tobacco-free, and his overall health continues to improve with each passing year. He can exercise without losing his breath and recently shed 40 pounds through a workout routine. The Quitline congratulates Mike on his life-changing accomplishment and extends gratitude for his willingness to share his success story.
Professional Profile:
Sara Siddiqui, MD, FAAP, ABOM, CFMDL1
 
Sara Siddiqui, MD, FAAP, ABOM, CFMDL1, a clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, is the Quitline's newest Healthcare Professional Task Force member. Sara is eager to share her nearly 25 years of pediatric experience with the Quitline's Marketing & Outreach Team and the general public at large, and will be a featured panelist in an upcoming Quitline-hosted webinar: "Addressing Tobacco and Nicotine Use by Youth and Young Adults."
Sara hopes the webinar's attendees will gain more awareness of the strong addiction-potential for young people who use of tobacco products. She believes parents and healthcare professionals alike would benefit from understanding the many resources available to treat nicotine dependence.
 

"We need to support adolescents in learning how to become tobacco-free, rather than just saying 'don't smoke' or 'don't vape'," Sara said. "With the use of ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) products in particular, I've seen negative health consequences firsthand, like bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs. While these many ENDS products are still new and warrant more research and data, 'safer' does not equal 'safe.'"
 
Sara first learned about vaping from her own children in the mid-2010s and quickly took to researching and becoming knowledgeable on the topic. When speaking with groups at local libraries and PTA meetings, she found many adults did not know about ENDS products. To deepen her expertise and further her advocacy efforts, Sara became an active member of the New York State Chapter 2 for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Just recently, the national organization recognized her as an E-Cigarette Chapter Champion for 2021-2022.
 
In addition to education efforts, Sara treats patients at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone on Long Island. She encourages all healthcare professionals to ask about tobacco use during every visit, no matter how brief the discussion lasts. As an added tip, she recommends all healthcare professionals include the Quitline's website, nysmokefree.com, on all discharge summaries.
 
"I'll always bring up tobacco use but also don't belabor the point, just so the patient doesn't perceive me as forceful or judging," Sara said. "Repeated interactions and check-ins can get a patient to eventually open up and make a quit-attempt. Taking the time to ask is so worth it in the long run to curb tobacco use."
Coach's Corner: Effie
 
Effie, short for Eleftheria, is the Quitline's newest supervisor. She is the first among her Greek family lineage to be born on U.S. soil and is named after her grandmother. In Greek, Eleftheria means "freedom." It is only fitting Effie is here at the Quitline, helping others achieve freedom from addiction to nicotine.
Effie joined in February 2022 just as she completed a master's degree in public health from Daemen University in Amherst, NY. For as long as she can remember, Effie always wanted a job where she can help as many people as possible. She feels ecstatic to gain a unique and rewarding experience in her field.
 
"
I love being able to help such a broad and diverse population across New York State," said Effie. "For many, we serve as a support system. I think we really make a difference in people’s lives."
 
When coaching, Effie strives to be empathetic through nonjudgmental, active listening. She understands the worries of those who think they cannot become tobacco-free due to multiple quit-attempts and the struggle to envision life without tobacco products.
 
"No two people become tobacco-free the same way," Effie said. "I tell clients to stay connected with their healthcare professionals to track their journey, especially with any reactions to medications and triggers. And of course, I remind them they can call us as much as they need for quick support."
 
Effie's co-workers appreciate her warm and approachable nature. Like her namesake, Effie supports freedom in her cooperative and collaborative style.
 
"I value honesty and open communication among my colleagues," she said. "I'm straightforward and want to learn exactly how I can help with anything that may need fixing."
Partner Power:
Danielle O'Brien 
 
Danielle O'Brien joined the CNY Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems at St. Joseph's Health just five months ago, but she brings a wealth of healthcare knowledge to her role as program coordinator.
Danielle served as a counselor in an inpatient psychiatric unit at St. Joseph's Health for seven years before transitioning to a case management role in home healthcare intensive care in 2015. One unfortunate commonality throughout her past and current experiences is the pervasiveness of smoking among patients with mental health conditions.
 
"Many patients I've treated have a notion that smoking helps with mental illness – it doesn't," Danielle said. "I witnessed a major prevalence of smoking among those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Smoking doesn't help reduce stress; rather, it creates more problems for managing treatments. These patients need proper care and information to counter the misconceptions of cigarettes creating calm and reducing anxiety."
 
Danielle considers herself lucky to work with an "all-star" cast of teammates in her new role. Together, they facilitate health systems change with medical and mental health organizations in 10 Central New York counties, working especially on addressing tobacco use in high-need populations.
 
Danielle and her team credit the Quitline's resources for shared success. She personally understands the Quitline's value to residents across New York State, as family members have received free nicotine replacement therapy medications and developed quit-plans through the guidance of Quit Coaches.

 
"I wish every healthcare professional, regardless of title, would educate and refer every tobacco user to the Quitline," Danielle said. "
The New York State Smokers' Quitline is so much more than a traditional quitline. It continually adapts with the times, such as navigating through COVID-19, helping parents understand more about vaping, adding online chat and text services, and so much more. Our team at St. Joseph's Health makes every effort to let people know the Quitline is a free and comprehensive resource. It works!"
 
To connect with Danielle, please contact her at danielle.l.obrien@sjhsyr.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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