Smoking leaves you with nothing to smile about

Nov. 20, 2002
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the New Jersey Dental Association launch partnership to help patients save their smiles from tobacco on the eve of the Great American Smokeout.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the New Jersey Dental Association (NJDA) announced today a joint campaign to mobilize the Stateis oral health professionals in the fight against tobacco use, the single most preventable cause of illness, disability, and death in New Jersey. Armed with the message, "Save Your Smile: Ask your dental team for the truth about tobacco," the partnership aims to raise awareness among dentists and their patients about the harmful effects of tobacco on the teeth and gums and urge dental professionals to intervene with their patients. The campaign is being launched today to encourage more New Jerseyans to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 21. The "Save Your Smile" campaign gives smokers yet another reason to quit and the tools to succeed.

"Every day in New Jersey, dentists and dental hygienists see first hand the dramatic impact of tobacco use on patients' teeth, gums, and tongue," said Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner, Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. "During dental visits patients should be strongly encouraged to quit smoking or chewing tobacco. They should be directed to tobacco cessation programs offered by the State."

Dentists are in the front lines in the fight to reduce tobacco use. National research shows that more than one-half of adults and nearly three-fourths of adolescents visit a dentist every year. Dentists who implement a cessation intervention program achieve quit rates of 10-15 percent each year compared to a three percent success rate for smokers who attempt to quit without any intervention. Furthermore, when smokers are referred to resources that provide more extensive intervention, the cessation rate rises to 35 percent.

"Tobacco use is the number one threat to the teeth and gums. Not only is it the primary cause of oral cancer, but it is also a leading cause of periodontal disease, a serious form of gum disease that results in tooth loss, especially for smokers," said NJDA President, Maxine Feinberg, D.D.S. "We are calling on dental professionals to inform patients who smoke about the damage that tobacco causes and to tell them how New Jerseyis Quit Services can help."

There are more than one million smokers in New Jersey, and 70 percent of them say they want to quit. New Jersey's menu of three no- or low-cost tobacco cessation services includes telephone, online, and face-to-face options, offering more direct service alternatives than any other state. These customized services include NJ Quitline (866-NJSTOPS or 866-657-8677), NJ Quitnet (, and 15 Quitcenters that offer face-to-face counseling in clinics across the state.

The New Jersey "Save Your Smile" campaign is the first of its kind in the nation that focuses on the full range of serious damage to oral health caused by tobacco use, including gum disease and tooth loss in addition to oral cancer.

Each year, over 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with mouth and throat cancers, and nearly 8,000 die from these diseases. In New Jersey tobacco causes an average of 451 new cases of oral cancer and 246 deaths annually. Smoking is to blame in over 90 percent of these deaths. Cigarette smokers, for example, are four times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer. Tooth loss is another serious problem among smokers, who are nearly twice as likely to lose their teeth as nonsmokers. Smokers are seven times more likely to suffer from periodontal disease, which can begin in smokers in their 20s. By the age of 65, 41.3 percent of daily smokers suffer from total tooth loss.

New Jersey Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program
NJ Quit Services are among the many initiatives sponsored by the Department and funded from the increase in the New Jersey cigarette tax (P.L. 2002, c. 33). The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids recently hailed New Jersey as one of ithe nationis new leaders in tobacco prevention.i The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ranked New Jersey among the top 10 states committing substantial funding to tobacco control programs. New Jerseyis Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce the sickness, disability, and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

The New Jersey Dental Association
The New Jersey Dental Association is the official body of organized dentistry in New Jersey. Its role is both professionally and community oriented and exists for and through its members. The Association's basic purpose is to represent organized dentistry and to ensure that the highest quality dental care is provided to the public. Since dentistry exists to serve the public, the Association must be sensitive and responsive to public needs.