Holding back tears, Frank DiGregorio, a retired New York Police Department detective, presented his wife with a ruby pendant to thank her for helping him to quit smoking after 48 years.
Mr. DiGregorio and his wife, Adrianne, who are approaching their 40th “ruby” wedding anniversary, returned to Southside Hospital to mark the Great American Smoke Out and thank his pulmonologist and Northwell Health’s Center for Tobacco Control (CTC) staff for their support and expertise in helping him kick his smoking habit.
Mr. DiGregorio, 63, began his two-pack-a-day habit when he was 15. After he experienced breathing issues two years ago, Mr. DiGregorio was referred to Southside Hospital’s medical director of pulmonary rehabilitation, C. Scott Hall, MD. It was then that Mr. DiGregorio was diagnosed with emphysema. Following Dr. Hall’s recommendation, Mr. DiGregorio joined the first smoking cessation support group offered by the CTC at the Bay Shore hospital. He hasn’t had a cigarette since last April.
“The Northwell Health smoking cessation program really works with you to help you quit,” Mr. DiGregorio said. “I tried quitting on my own for a year before my wife signed me up for this program. By gradually weaning myself off cigarettes, I went from someone who smoked half a pack on my drive to Manhattan each day to someone who quit smoking altogether.”
The American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smoke Out, which encourages smokers to finally kick the habit, offered an important message this year; “When trying to quit smoking, support can make all the difference.”
No one would agree with this message more than Mr. DiGregorio, who told a room filled with well-wishers that his goal was made much easier, thanks to the loving support of his wife and children. “My wife has been a rock during this entire journey,” he said. “Now we can really look forward to a great celebration on our 40th.”
After noting that smoking kills almost half a million Americans every year, Dr. Hall emphasized the fact that there is never a bad time to quit. “There are so many health benefits to quitting,” he said. “You’ll see…even food tastes better.”
The Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control’s program consists of counseling, nicotine replacements and tools; relapse prevention strategies and ongoing support. There are also monthly follow-up support meetings to help participants stay smoke-free. The program’s quit rate is about 50 percent, compared to the national average of about 20 percent, according to CTC leadership.
For more information about Southside Hospital’s smoking cessation support group, call the Center for Tobacco Control at 516-466-1980.
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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, over 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for more than two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 63,500 employees – 15,000+ nurses and 4,000 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu.