STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Parents and family members of newborns at Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital can make a different type of New Year’s resolution for 2013 that carries lifelong health benefits for them and their children: they can “opt to quit” smoking under a new state initiative called Opt-To-QuitTM.
Stony Brook Children’s is the first children’s hospital in the State of New York to adopt the initiative, which offers smokers telephone-based coaching and support, free nicotine replacement medications and other smoking cessation tools. Eleven hospitals and clinics in New York are currently implementing the program; Stony Brook Children’s is the only children’s hospital participating.
The Opt–to-Quit program is part of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline. “The goal of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline is to encourage and motivate smokers to quit,” said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH. “We do this because every year in New York State, 25,000 people die from smoking.”
Stony Brook Children’s has happily taken a lead position in this important initiative, says Margaret McGovern, MD, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Physician-In-Chief, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, and hopes that its implementation inspires other children’s hospitals throughout the state to do likewise.
“Few things are more important than creating a healthy environment for children,” said Dr. McGovern. “Because we are concerned about the dangers of secondhand smoke for children, as well as the example set by adults that may lead to a smoking habit later in life, we have brought the Opt-to-Quit Program to Stony Brook Children’s.”
Through the program, parents, caregivers and family members who are smokers will be offered direct referral to the New York State Smokers Quitline by hospital staff. Those accepting referral through Opt-to-Quit will be contacted directly by the New York State Smokers Quitline. The New York State Quitline provides support and smoking cessation tools to help smokers quit. The program is a free service sponsored by the New York State Department of Health.
Rachel Boykan, MD, a pediatric hospitalist at Stony Brook Children’s, initiated the implementation of Opt-to-Quit at Stony Brook. “Many smokers are ready to quit smoking, but the process of calling the Quitline can be an extra step they do not take,” she said. “The Opt-to-Quit initiative facilitates the referral of smokers to the Quitline by making it part of our intake system. By taking contact information of willing participants, we remove the burden of their having to make the phone call themselves.”
Dr. Boykan has received a grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Julius P. Richmond Center for Excellence to study the factors that may predict success in quitting smoking.
“Having these resources available through a children’s hospital makes complete sense,” said Dr. McGovern. “We have been a smoke-free institution since January 2009, so this is just the next step in our commitment to the children and families of Suffolk County.”
The dangers of secondhand smoke to children are well documented. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults and have little control over their environment. Exposure can cause asthma – the most common chronic childhood disease – as well as increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), lower respiratory tract infections and middle ear infections.
To learn more about Opt-to-Quit, call Patricia Bax, RN, MS, at (716) 845-4365.