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Welcome to the Winter 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.
 
In case you missed it, we recently hosted
two webinars: "Introducing Tobacco Cessation into Your Practice" and "Youth and Young Adult Tobacco Cessation in a Clinical Setting." Please visit the webinars section of our Online News Room Archive to viewing the recordings and download presentation slides.
 
For healthcare professionals, the COVID-19 created myriad challenges in 2021. In spite of trying times, you continued to recognize the importance of addressing tobacco use with your patients and clients. We sincerely thank you for utilizing the Quitline’s services and wish everyone a
happy, healthy, and tobacco-free 2022
! 
Success Story:
Leanna K.
 
Leanna K. of Syracuse started smoking as a teenager and battled breast cancer in 2019. Now age 56, she is cancer-free and intends to stay that way by maintaining a tobacco-free lifestyle.
"I had quit smoking for nearly 20 years but relapsed four years ago due to stress," Leanna said. "I approached my 55th birthday and wasn't proud that I was once again a smoker, especially after battling breast cancer. The Quit Coaches at the Quitline helped me succeed – they motivated me and said, 'You can do this.'"
 
Leanna received free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) from the Quitline via mail in the form of patches and gum. The medication helped curb cravings, and a personalized quit-plan created in consultation with the Quit Coaches helped her navigate the behavioral and psychological aspects of nicotine dependence.
 
Leanna continues to keep a list posted on her refrigerator with the reasons she chose to become tobacco-free. She looks at it every day to give herself strength and pride.
 
"I have asthma, and I'm so grateful I no longer have a bad cough," Leanna added. "Being tobacco-free is really helping my budget, too. The free patches and gum were especially a godsend, as my insurance plan at the time didn’t cover them."
 
To learn more about Leanna's tobacco-free journey, please click here to view a television interview with Spectrum News 1 Central NY.
Remember to Refer Your Tobacco-Using Patients!
Professional Profile:
Anne Lawton, RN, NCTTP
 
Anne Lawton, RN, NCTTP, a community outreach nurse with St. Peter's Health Partners in Albany, only recently started to focus specifically on tobacco dependence treatment. Her nearly 30-year career in nursing, however, built up to her current role.
"I had always specialized in cancer care," Anne said. "I learned so many cancers were tied to tobacco use, and many patients of mine were heavy smokers. When the opportunity came to take on a new community outreach role in 2015, I knew I wanted to make tobacco cessation my focus."
 
Anne indeed is a champion for tobacco cessation education. One of her main projects includes facilitating The Butt Stops Here™, a group therapy program for those seeking to become tobacco-free. Anne also is a member of the Quitline's Healthcare Professional Task Force and recently partnered with the Quitline's Marketing & Outreach Team to present "Introducing Tobacco Cessation into Your Practice."
 

"Nurses are trusted and respected professionals – they can play a huge role in helping patients become tobacco-free," she said. "Nurses typically have more opportunities to spend time with patients, so it's important to ask the right questions through motivational interviewing and assess where the patient is at in terms of readiness to quit."
 
Although Anne recognizes the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a stress-inducer for relapses, she says it also offered a silver living for The Butt Stops Here™ program.
 
"Since the start of the pandemic, we switched to online classes and are now reaching people from across New York State," Anne said. "What remains the same, though, is that participants have to be willing to put in the work and stick with the program to achieve success."
 
As part of her mission to provide program participants and her individual patients with as many stop-smoking resources as possible, Anne always discusses the Quitline and encourages referrals.
 
"The phrase I often say around patients is, 'Use your village,'" she said. "It's extremely difficult to become tobacco-free alone, so keep talking with others and remember the Quitline offers free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). In fact, I encourage patients to call me as soon as they receive the NRT in the mail, so we can review how to effectively administer the products."
 
Anne finds most tobacco users started young, simply by "making one bad decision" and then becoming addicted. She calls upon all healthcare professionals to keep this in mind and to offer compassion and respect when discussing tobacco use with patients.
 
"Be open, be non-judgmental, and ask open-ended questions," Anne advises. "Overall tobacco use in New York State is down, but it still greatly impacts marginalized populations like those who have financial or mental distress. It's so important to continue focusing on tobacco dependence treatment and to partner with resources like the Quitline."
Coach's Corner: Dawn
 
Ask Dawn what it means to become tobacco-free, and she'll say it's all about steps. In fact, she likens the process to the cha-cha dance.
"It's important to visualize what it's like to be tobacco-free, and to keep taking small steps to get there – such as practicing not smoking in a car as your quit-date approaches," Dawn said. "It's not always a straight and narrow journey. Just like the cha-cha, you may take two steps forward and one step back. But you're still moving across the dance floor!"
 
Dawn knows all about taking steps and finding success in time. Fourteen years ago, she had just become tobacco-free after being a smoker for 30 years. She was assigned an unknown position through a temp agency, and it just happened to be working as a Quit Coach with the New York State Smokers' Quitline.
 
"It was serendipitous to land this role," Dawn said. "I enjoy working with people and being a catalyst to helping them achieve their goals and take control of their health."
 
As the New Year begins and COVID-19 cases unfortunately continue to rise, Dawn anticipates more clients may experience distressed mental health, feelings of isolation, and fears of nicotine withdrawal. Despite these barriers, Dawn believes in the power of the highly-trained Quit Coaches and proven stop-smoking medications to help clients achieve their tobacco-free goals.
 
"I try to focus on the positives," she said. "Clients need someone to listen to them, to not judge, and to pick them up when they falter. I try to remind them that improved health can affect so many other aspects of their life, and that they're worth investing in themselves."
Partner Power:
Joey Boswell
 
Although Joey Boswell is a relatively new addition among the regional contractors with Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York, his background positions him for a long and fruitful career in the field of tobacco control. And while Joey is originally from a rural region of Texas outside San Antonio, he deeply understands New York State's North Country and the unique needs of its residents.
Joey first came to New York State after high school, as he was stationed at Fort Drum with the U.S. Army. He was a CBRN specialist, which stands for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear.
 
"I really always was a 'science guy' at heart," Joey said. "Looking back at my time detecting chemicals in the soil, water and air, I now see the parallels to the work we’re doing to combat the harms of tobacco use, including electronic nicotine delivery systems."
 
After his time in the U.S. Army, Joey remained in the North Country and studied public health at SUNY Potsdam. While there, he recognized tobacco dependence treatment as an under-discussed topic and thought he could be of greatest assistance the community by focusing on it.
 
"
Tobacco use deeply impacts our communities," Joey said. "Collectively, we need to talk about it more and have open, honest, and sometimes hard conversations. It's how we'll build structure and support for people needing tobacco dependence treatment."
 
In 2017, Joey became a regional grantee with Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities at the Seaway Valley Prevention Council and then with the Adirondack Health Institute in 2020. This past September, he joined The North County Healthy Heart Network and shifted focus to health systems change.
 
Joey covers four of the largest counties in the state in terms of land area: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence. In his role, Joey seeks to provide sustainable strategies to policies and procedures within healthcare organizations, helping them implement evidence-based tobacco cessation interventions in an easier fashion.
 
"I try to educate as many healthcare professionals as possible about resources that are free and that work," Joey said. "But there are unique challenges for trying reach people in the North Country."
 
Joey notes the region's internet accessibility is lacking compared to the rest of New York State, which can create challenges for implementing electronic strategies such as the Quitline's Opt-to-Quit™ program. The North Country's internet sparsity and mountainous terrain further complicate healthcare professionals' efforts to reach tobacco-using patients.
 
"Believe it or not, there are parts of the North Country where some people don't have running water or electricity," Joey said. "To compound matters, many suffer from mental health issues, leading to higher rates of smoking."
 
Joey believes there is hope, however. In Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties, he is seeing an overall decline of tobacco use in recent years. He credits this, in part, due to county health plans focusing more on tobacco cessation and chronic disease prevention care.
 
"In a perfect world, I would embed the Quitline's Opt-to-Quit™ program into every healthcare organization's system in the North Country and beyond," he said. "For now, we have to make the most of the resources we have, keep building our connections for shared strength, and promote coaching plus medication to treat tobacco dependence."
 
To connect with Joey, please e-mail him at jboswell@heartnetwork.org.
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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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