1329151155_Are you ready to quit smoking? Then join us on Thursday, Nov. 21, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., at our 235 Port Richmond Avenue center. Along with the Anti-Smoking Staten Island Support Team (ASSIST) Tobacco Cessation Center at the Richmond University Medical Center, we are hosting a special info fair to mark the Great American Smokeout. We will have advice and tips to help you learn how you can stop smoking. ASSIST will be giving away free nicotine replacement samples and dental-care items. HealthPlus Amerigroup, the Staten Island Smoke-Free Partnership, and Reality Check, which counsels teenagers about the harmful effects of tobacco use, also will be on hand.

The American Cancer Society promotes the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to quit. On Staten Island, local organizations and health care providers, such as CHCR, have joined the effort.

Smoking causes cancer and lung disease—risks that have been documented for almost 50 years. Yet, 13.5% of Staten Island residents still smoke, including an estimated 2,000 high school students. According to the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, at least one-third of these young people can expect to die prematurely as a direct result of smoking. Throughout New York City, according to the Coalition, at least 200,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes—which increases their risks of cancer as adults.

Smoking also causes serious oral problems that, in turn, can affect overall health. Smokers are five to 10 times more likely to develop cancers of the mouth, throat and gums than non-smokers. Smoking also causes gum disease that, if untreated, can lead to tooth loss, as well as other oral conditions such as leukoplakia, a precancerous condition in which thick white patches form on gums; melanosis, a darkening of the gums; “hairy tongue,” a condition in which the tongue develops a dark furry appearance; bad breath; dry mouth; and a reduced ability to taste food. In addition to its cancer risks, smokeless tobacco also causes tooth decay.

It is especially important for smokers to receive regular dental care. CHCR will soon be opening the CHCR Dental and Medical Specialty Center at 439 Port Richmond Avenue.

Smoking also is an expensive habit. A pack of cigarettes costs about $14.50 in New York (the most costly in the nation) and $8.00 in New Jersey. So, depending on where you buy your cigarettes, if you smoke a pack a day, you’re literally blowing $3,000 to $5,300 a year. There are lots of reasons to quit – and no time is better than now.

So stop by CHCR on Nov. 21. If the weather is good, we’ll be outside. If it’s cold and rainy, come into the center to learn how you can quit smoking and start living better.

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