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Celebrate Black History Month by becoming an ex-smoker

Release Date: February 20, 2009
Contact: Carol Schriber, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – February marks Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and remembering the contributions of African Americans to the United States and North Carolina. Public health leaders hope to also encourage smokers to use this special time to re-learn their lives without cigarettes, so they can create the legacy of a longer and healthier life.

“We want to encourage the 23.5 percent of North Carolina African American adults who smoke to approach quitting as ‘re-learning life without cigarettes,’” said Barbara Pullen-Smith at the N.C. Office of Minority Health.  “Quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and quality of life,” she said. “And, with the economy the way it is, quitting tobacco can also improve the health of your wallet.”  

“We all know that tobacco use is a tough addition to break, and the Office of Minority Health wants to get the word out about two great new free resources to help people quit for good — the N.C. Tobacco Use telephone Quitline and a web-based, on-line program called ‘Become an EX,’” Pullen-Smith said.
The toll-free Quitline is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) every day from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. in English, Spanish, and many other languages. The online program “Become an EX” is available on-line around the clock at

Both programs are designed to help tobacco users handle the difficult process of quitting. Either program can help change the way smokers feel about quitting, and guide them to valuable resources to quit successfully.

“Resources like the Quitline and can help smokers develop a personalized quit plan, and gather the resources they need to be successful,” said Sally Herndon Malek, head of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch.  “Combining the free and confidential help from these resources with effective tobacco cessation medications doubles your chances of quitting successfully.”
Heart disease is the number-one killer of African Americans, and smoking causes about 30 percent of all heart disease deaths. African American male smokers are more likely to die of smoking-related lung cancer than any other race/gender group.

Most North Carolina smokers want to quit, but only a small number are able to successfully quit each year, studies have found.  In 2006, 66.9 percent of African Americans made a serious but failed attempt to quit smoking.
“Quitting smoking now to celebrate Black History Month is a great and healthy legacy to provide for your children and grandchildren,” said Pullen-Smith.
“The free Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW and the ‘Become an EX’ website at can help,” Pullen-Smith said.

Funded by the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund along with other state and federal funds, the Quitline is operated by the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health. ‘Become an EX’ is a project of the National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation to help people quit smoking.



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