Jeanne Graber, a Batavia resident, knows first-hand how hard it is to quit smoking. She stopped smoking three years ago after 55 years of being addicted to the deadly habit. She is now encouraging others, including her neighbors at Washington Towers where she lives, to quit with the help from their doctors.
Jeanne will be among four women at Washington Towers who will be recognized by the American Heart Association. They will receive an iconic red dress pin at a special event to support the GoRedforWoman campaign.
The other women to be recognized are Patricia Epple, Margaret Hughes and Jeanette Johnson.
The event will take place at Washington Towers from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13th. Management and residents also will celebrate the third anniversary of the adoption of the smoke-free policy at the apartment complex, located at 1 State St. in the City of Batavia. This policy benefits non-smokers and supports those who want to quit smoking.
"I know quitting has changed my life and made me appreciate my health more than ever," Graber said. "I'm the master of my ship now, not cigarettes. Unfortunately, before the building went smoke free, residents really could not avoid secondhand smoke because it came through the vents, outlets, windows and cracks. I want everyone who lives here to be able to breathe clean air and have healthy hearts. I'm so glad we made the decision to go smoke free."
"Smoke free policies and laws are an easy, affordable and cost effective way to prevent heart disease and help to create healthier communities," said Kevin Keenan, Community Engagement coordinator for Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming. "Most renters, including smokers, want smoke-free housing as it supports their efforts to quit."
February is American Heart Month, an opportune time to remind New Yorkers that tobacco use and secondhand smoke are major causes of heart disease, America's number one killer. Frequent exposure to tobacco smoke has been found to nearly double the risk of having a heart attack and creates an unhealthy environment for children. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease, increases the risk of stroke and the severity of heart attacks when they occur.
New Yorkers can be protected from smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease by creating more smoke-free housing. In addition, smokers need resources to help them quit.
Valerie Tidwell, property manager at Washington Towers said, "More than 80 percent of our residents supported making the apartments smoke free. They now realize that this was a sensible policy since there's no fool-proof way of protecting residents from secondhand smoke unless you go completely smoke free inside. For management and tenants, it has worked out well."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year nearly 33 million nonsmokers in the U.S. may be exposed to secondhand smoke coming from other units and common areas. Each year secondhand smoke causes more than 3,000 deaths in nonsmoking adults in New York State, most from heart disease and lung cancer.
Tobacco-free apartment buildings save money in addition to many lives. According to the CDC, prohibiting smoking in subsidized housing alone would result in annual cost savings of nearly $125 million in New York State. Cost savings of $100 million would come from unneeded secondhand smoke-related healthcare.
"Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for coronary diseases and quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of coronary diseases," Keenan said. "I hope more people join Washington Towers' residents in loving their hearts by ending this deadly addiction."
Those looking for help quitting, should talk to their doctor and for additional support, call the New York Smokers' Quitline. The Quitline provides free coaching, information and a free starter kit of nicotine patches to eligible New York residents. All callers to the Quitline in February will receive a red dress pin or bracelet. Wearing a red dress pin is a tangible reminder that better heart health begins with quitting smoking.
For more information about smoke-free properties, contact Kevin Keenan at 585-219-4064 or by e-mail at Kevin.Keenan@roswellpark.org
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