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      Report: One in five CNY adults smoke

      About one out of every five adults smokes in upstate New York, and about 61% of them have tried to quit their habit, according to a report released Wednesday by insurance company Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

      The report comes a day before the annual Great American Smokeout, a day set aside each year to raise awareness of the health risks of smoking and encourage smokers to quit by challenging them to go without smoking for 24 hours. The first Smokeout was held by the American Cancer Society in 1977.

      This year TMs Smokeout is on Thursday, November 19.

      "For someone addicted to smoking, quitting can be a formidable challenge," said Dr. Arthur Vercillo, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

      The report says that about 179,000 people - 21.7% of adults " in Central New York smoke, but smoking rates have decreased in CNY and throughout upstate New York. According to the report:

      The upstate adult smoking rate declined from 25.5% in 2003 to 21.4% in 2007. The CNY rate declined from 27.6% to 21.7% during that time.

      About 818,000 adults smoked in upstate New York in 2007, and about 61% of them said they tried to quit in the last 12 months;

      Adult smokers in upstate New York account for about $1.7 billion in excess medical costs annually, including $356.4 million in the Central New York region.

      "We are encouraged that the adult smoking rate in upstate New York is declining, especially since smokers are more likely to develop serious medical conditions such as lung and heart diseases that can hurt their quality of life," Vercillo said.

      Smokers looking to quit during and after the Smokeout can call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS for more information.

      To read the smoking report, go to and click on "Policy and Research."

      Information courtesy Excellus BCBS and the American Cancer Society.