Orchard Park, N.Y.– The Buffalo Bills and Legacy®, a national public health foundation, teamed up for the 2011 NFL season to help fans live longer, healthier lives by promoting EX®, the national quit smoking campaign developed by Legacy. Each November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time for all Americans to be reminded that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. With the toll tobacco use takes on our families, economy and our communities in Western New York, the partnership between the Buffalo Bills and Legacy will bring free quit smoking resources to Bills fans that are looking to tackle addiction head-on.
Sports fans and smoking are often connected, and in a survey conducted by Legacy in 2009, 63 percent of sports fans identified themselves as current or former smokers; 76 percent of those current or former smokers said they had smoked while watching or attending sporting events. These results show that, collectively, fans as a group are in need of programs to help them quit smoking.
Bills wide receiver Donald Jones supports the quit smoking initiatives and is proud to speak out about the partnership. Jones' grandfather has a smoking-related lung disease, and Donald played a role in helping his grandfather quit smoking a few years ago.
"It is important to help fans have access to the necessary resources to help them quit smoking," said Jones. "The online quit smoking program is a great way for fans to get the assistance they need to make a positive change in their lives and become healthier. If I had this program available to me when I was trying to help my grandfather, maybe I wouldn't have had to hide his cigarettes from him all the time!"
The Bills organization is further showing its commitment to helping fans by providing a smoke-free environment. Earlier this season, the team eliminated smoking from Ralph Wilson Stadium. In New York State, more than 15 percent of the adult population smokes. Being in a smoke-free environment can help smokers who are trying to quit and also protect non-smokers from the unhealthy effects of secondhand smoke. By eliminating stadium smoking, the Bills are giving fans a chance to enjoy the on-field action without suffering negative off-field health effects.
"The Buffalo Bills are committed to providing a smoke-free environment at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and partnering with Legacy to promote smoking cessation resources for our great fans, staff and partners is an important element," said Bruce Popko, Bills senior vice president of business development. "In-stadium advertisements will point smokers toward BecomeAnEX.org and by working with players like Donald Jones we hope to give fans real examples of why this issue is so important."
"Buffalo has been home to several of Legacy's campaigns – Bob Quits, Mary Quits and a pilot program of our EX campaign," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. "We are excited to return to this great city, and proud to be working alongside a staple of Buffalo life – the fabled Buffalo Bills. The Bills have taken an important step toward protecting fans' health by eliminating smoking from Ralph Wilson Stadium, and we applaud their example. We hope that through this partnership, we can help fans navigate the difficult process of quitting by providing real help and real tools from BecomeAnEX.org."
BecomeAnEX.org is a free online quit smoking program that provides smokers with the resources needed to plan a quit attempt and succeed. The plan provides evidence-based tools to help smokers quit, including information and resources that were designed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and with input from former and current smokers who have lived with this struggle. EX also provides social support through the website, which serves as a convening point for smokers who want to quit and collaborate with others on their successes and challenges in the difficult quit process. More than two million people have visited the site, and more than 500,000 of them have registered to Become An EX. These members have formed nearly 400 customized support groups.
In the year 2000, most smokers in America – 70 percent – wanted to quit, but, only about five percent of smokers were successful in quitting long-term. Tobacco-related disease is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States; smokers, therefore, need to be armed with all the available information to make the best, most informed choices about the smoking cessation medications and resources available to them. This partnership aims to help the fans in Buffalo get off the sidelines and tackle tobacco. Bills fans who are looking to quit should visit: www.BecomeAnEX.org/Bills.
Legacy® is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the national public health organization helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. Legacy develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth®, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as having contributed to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Legacy was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit http://www.legacyforhealth.org/.