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Help is available to kick the habit

It's that time of year when people start thinking about their New Year's resolutions. Will it be to lose weight? Save money? Eat right? Spend more time with family? For many, the resolution will be to quit smoking.

About 17 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 18 smoke. However, in Erie and Niagara counties that rate is much higher at 27 percent. Quitting smoking can be hard, but the health benefits are immediate. Within 20 minutes of having your last cigarette, your heart rate drops. Within 12 hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal. Over time your risk of a heart attack and stroke decreases, too.

For those who decide that this is the year to quit, there is help out there. A resource that is often overlooked is an individual's health care provider. Doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists can not only educate you on the dangers of tobacco use, but also give advice on ways to quit. They are also able to provide prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation pharmacotherapies/medications.

Another resource is the New York State Smokers' Quitline. By calling 1-866-NY-QUITS or visiting www.nysmokefree.com a smoker can get quitting advice and may even be eligible for free nicotine patches.

Whether one decides to quit "cold turkey" or goes the route of patches or medications, there is support for people who want to quit. Hopefully people will take advantage of these supports and have a healthier 2012.

Karen Thurn, R.N.

Healthy Partners Program Director

UB Family Medicine

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Service for Rocky was well-deserved

I was saddened to read the criticism in Everybody's Column about the memorial service for Rocky, the police dog. As a highly trained and skilled member of law enforcement, Rocky performed duties that were often too dangerous for his human counterparts. He was a member of the police force, albeit a four-legged member, who sacrificed his life in the line of duty. The memorial service to recognize his dedication, loyalty and bravery was certainly well deserved. The honor and respect afforded this member of law enforcement should not be diminished because he was a dog.

Mary E. VandenBergh

Tonawanda

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Occupiers offer us a chance to unite

As a parent of the first person arrested at Occupy Buffalo, I would like to point out that there have been more than 5,400 arrests during Occupy protests in 94 cities across the country, according to St. Pete for Peace, based in Florida.

There is no question that the Occupy movement has accomplished a strong power and solidarity. If you are not part of the 1 percent, please read on. The rest of us are made up of a wide range of races, religions, ages, political beliefs, socioeconomic statuses and occupations. The occupiers offer us an opportunity to unite, bring about human connections/discussions and create change on a national scale. They symbolize an element of power that can be accomplished when people come together. They give us a different view, one of possibilities and promise that a world may actually exist that would work for everyone. They work toward policy changes that are desperately needed in our government. They stand united against Wall Street greed, social inequality and corporate power in our political system today. They are armed with their constitutional rights of the First Amendment: freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government. Some, like my daughter, are full-time college students; some employed and some not. They give up their time, run to and from school and work, and many sleep there. They sacrifice to stand strong in hopes of making changes that could benefit the entire 99 percent. I find this to be quite honorable.

I make no excuses for a student who would rather spend her winter break standing up against social inequality, Wall Street greed and corporate power in politics. I cannot sit in my comfortable home and find fault with people who choose to exercise their rights and freedoms for what they so strongly believe needs to change.

Angela Cooke

Williamsville

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Don't elect Fontana as Council president

Next week, the Common Council will be voting for a president to lead the Council. The key to the president's seat is to lead. I'm not sure who really is best for the seat, but I'm sure who is not. Lovejoy Council Member Richard Fontana, although a very nice guy, is not a leader and he does not deserve the presidency.

During his term we have lost so many things in Lovejoy. Our Police District Substation on Bailey Avenue, the old Precinct 11, was supposed to be kept open as a patrol station. Fontana allowed then-Mayor Anthony Masiello and Police Commissioner Rocco Diina to close it. Never once did he take a stand for this. When he ran for office, he ran under the pretense that we needed police patrol presence, but we no longer have that.

Fontana also was behind a plan to expand a building in our park, so that it could run more activities and be open longer hours. None of this has happened. He followed what a former Council member wanted and wasted millions of dollars along with the loss of parkland.

Our library, like many others, was closed, the business strip is a complete mess and the businesses that are left struggle every day to stay alive. None of these things would have happened if we had a fighter for the people. Fontana has made promises to many people, but many of them have not come to fruition.

The Council is supposed to be able to work with the mayor, but it should not be run by Byron Brown or Steven Casey, for that matter. If the Council members elect Fontana as president, they are turning the Council over to Brown and Casey.

If they don't want David Franczyk, so be it. But there must be someone else on the Council who can be a leader.

Linda J. Hastreiter

Buffalo

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Obama already said no to oil pipeline

It looks like the Republicans really stood their ground on the tax cut deal. Social Security, which is already in trouble, will continue to be underfunded. Another tax will be placed on people who buy homes to pay for this mess.

But the biggest thing the Republican cowards got was President Obama's pledge to decide within 60 days on the Keystone pipeline project. I guess House Speaker John Boehner spent way too much time getting his suntan. It seems to have affected his hearing. What part of "no" did he not understand? Obama already said no to Keystone. Does the Republican Party think in 60 days he will change his mind?

Harvey Schwartzmeyer

North Collins