Soule: November draws attention to rural health, smoking cessation

Soule: November draws attention to rural health, smoking cessation


Long before men were growing their facial hair for No-Shave November to remind men to prioritize their health, this month has been known for two important events — National Rural Health Day and the Great American Smokeout — both of which are slated for Nov. 21.

East Hill Family Medical’s health care providers serve thousands of residents in Auburn and throughout Cayuga County. I was surprised to discover that through our pediatric offices, adult medicine/primary care offices and dental offices, one out of every 10 patients actually lives in the rural towns surrounding Cayuga County. Our health care staff provide primary medical care to patients from Seneca Falls, Jordan/Elbridge and Wayne County. Looking inside our county, most of our patients are from Auburn, but nearly 25% are from the smaller towns and villages in Cayuga County. Understanding that rural residents face some unique challenges allows us to serve them better.

Rural communities are wonderful places that often draw residents looking for quiet homes, friendly neighbors and scenic views. However, transportation and access to community resources can be challenging. That’s why we work with Medicaid transportation providers to reduce barriers for some residents to get to their medical appointments.

National Rural Health Day is all about bringing attention to the specific health care issues facing our rural communities. Likewise, this day is the reminder to focus on making sure rural voices are heard, especially in planning and policy conversations. Indeed, the theme is to celebrate the “power of rural.”

The same day as National Rural Health Day — Nov. 21 — marks the Great American Smokeout. The goal of the Great American Smokeout is to build up to a day when people consider what it would take for them to quit smoking. Smoking cessation is a process, and one that is most successful when the person creates a plan to kick the butts. Therefore, setting a quit date and planning strategies to form new habits are important steps to make this change.

It seems like a lot fewer people are smoking now compared to 10 years ago, but I was curious what the numbers show about how our community fares against others in the region.

The good news is that Cayuga County’s smoking rates are decreasing, but they are still higher than the state and national averages. Cayuga County has the second highest rates of lung cancer and death due to lung cancer in central New York. According to the National Cancer Institute, our county’s rate of lung cancer is higher than New York state’s rate, as well as the national average. More people die from lung cancer annually than any other type of cancer. Clearly, there’s more work to do to prevent another family from having to experience this tragedy.

In a bid to help people make the exciting change for a smoke-free life, East Hill Family Medical is offering free smoking cessation kits while supplies last. These include steps to complete a plan to help you feel prepared to quit, as well as tip sheets to guide you through changing your habits.

Most insurance companies cover counseling dedicated to quitting tobacco use and several nicotine replacement therapies or non-nicotine oral medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If you would like a free smoking cessation kit, please visit our website,, and click on the button on the homepage. 

Jessica Soule, MPH, is the director of strategic partnerships for East Hill Family Medical, a patient-centered medical home in Auburn that offers adult medicine and addiction, dental, reproductive health and pediatric services. She can be reached at (315) 253-8477 ext. 509 or


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