Millions of smokers expected to quit during Great American Smokeout

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Millions of people around the country and county are expected to snub out their cigarettes today for the last time. They’re doing it as part of the Great American Smokeout.

It’s an initiative that started more than 40 years ago and, during that time, millions of people have stopped smoking. When the initiative began, around 35% of the nation smoked; now, it’s less than 20%. The Western New York average sits around 18.8%; higher than the state average which is at 16%.

“We are reaching out to every smoker,” said Anthony Billoni, the director for Tobacco-Free Erie-Niagara.  “We do everything we can to find the best possible way to get them out from under this.”

That includes lining up smokers with resources, nicotine alternatives, and encouraging them to find support.

“It’s something that you know you’re not doing alone,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County Health Commissioner. “If you have a craving, talk to a friend.”

Dr. Burstein says there are many benefits to quitting; in the first 24 hours, alone, health improvements can be seen including blood pressure dropping to a normal rate, taste buds repairing.

The commissioner is hopeful many people will see that there are benefits and quit smoking during the Smokeout.

“It’s one day, 24 hours, and that’s the way to start and we can do it all together.”

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