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Press Release # 043-05
Thursday, May 5, 2005

CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Sid Dinsay
Business Hours (212) 788-5290
After Business Hours (212) 788-3058


Health Dept. Receives $8 Million Donation of Patches from Pfizer to Help New Yorkers Quit Smoking

NEW YORK CITY - May 5, 2005 - Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing smokers can do for their health. In a continuing effort to make it easier for New Yorkers to quit smoking, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), in partnership with Pfizer Inc., will distribute full courses of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT, or “the patch”) at no cost to New Yorkers who smoke. By calling 311, New York City residents can find out if they are eligible to receive the patch. Recipients must be 18 years or older and must meet other eligibility requirements. The patch kits are worth about $150 and will be available for a limited time only, on a first-call, first-served basis. A similar program offered two years ago met tremendous demand in the first several days.

DOHMH will also distribute nicotine patches to medical providers in neighborhoods around the City through the department’s Public Health Detailing Program. Courses of NRT will also be distributed through the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) cessation clinics, DOHMH’s District Public Health Offices, and through community-based organizations.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New York City and throughout the nation,” said DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden. “More than one million New Yorkers smoke, putting themselves and their families at risk for preventable illness and death, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to quit. Simply call 311 and, if you’re eligible, you will receive a full course of safe and effective medicines to help you stop smoking. If you smoke, this is the most important thing you can do to improve your health.”

“Smoking kills a New Yorker about every 55 minutes," said Karen Katen, Pfizer vice chairman and president of Pfizer Human Health. "The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene understands this better than anyone, and that's why New York leads the country in helping its residents quit. But quitters also relapse. Like Mark Twain said, ‘Quitting smoking is easy - I’ve done it hundreds of times.’ Pfizer wants to help struggling smokers become nonsmokers for good, so we're privileged to join this partnership and help with free nicotine patches and support. New York has been our hometown for more than 150 years, and we want to help our neighbors fight a tough fight that's winnable.”

Dr. Frieden added: “The City is grateful to Pfizer for making this and other patch distribution programs possible. Pfizer’s previous donation of patches helped many New Yorkers quit smoking, preventing thousands of premature deaths. Now, most New Yorkers who ever smoked have already quit, and fewer than one in 5 residents smoke. Most people who smoke want to quit, and with help, they have an even better chance of succeeding. We appreciate Pfizer’s demonstration of good corporate responsibility.”

What You Get If You’re Eligible

Eligible smokers will receive the following in the mail:

  • A full six-week supply of nicotine patches;
  • Instructions on how to use the nicotine patch;
  • DOHMH literature on how to quit smoking;
  • Pfizer’s “Know Your Health” brochure, detailing how to receive personalized, online support for your quit efforts

DOHMH will contact program participants by phone after they receive their nicotine patches to offer support and advice on stopping smoking.

DOHMH’s Public Health Detailing Program - Bringing NRT to Communities That Need It Most

Started in 2003 with the assistance of Pfizer, the DOHMH Public Health Detailing Program engages medical providers to provide effective clinical care in critically important areas. Previously, Public Health Detailing representatives have promoted flu vaccinations, colon cancer screenings, asthma control, diabetes and smoking cessation. Over the next two months, Public Health Detailing teams will provide nicotine patch kits in communities with the highest prevalence of smokers - including Fordham and Throgs Neck in the Bronx; Flushing and the Rockaways in Queens; the Lower East Side in Manhattan; Crown Heights and Sunset Park in Brooklyn; and Staten Island.

“In the fight against tobacco, the medical community is our most important ally,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at DOHMH. “Doctors and other medical providers play an important role in the health of their communities. The message to them is this: if you have patients who smoke, help them quit. These patches are one of the many smoking cessation resources offered by the city, and we hope medical providers take full advantage of them.”

Smoking Cessation Efforts Through the City’s Public Hospitals

Beginning in July 2004, DOHMH partnered with Pfizer and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation to distribute courses of NRT through HHC’s Smoking Cessation Clinics, which cared for more than 19,000 smokers last year. HHC continues to offer free or low-cost support services, including counseling and other resources, at its Smoking Cessation Clinics. To find the location of one nearest you, visit or call 311.

"HHC provides smoking cessation programs to help smokers quit in 16 sites throughout the City," said HHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Van Dunn. "Our comprehensive program combines intensive counseling with the use of pharmacotherapeutics including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). We have found this combination to be effective with a quit rate of close to 36% in 19,000 clients who enrolled in this regimen in 2004. We support the use of NRT in our smoking cessation programs because of its demonstrated safety and effectiveness in controlling nicotine addiction."



Segundo Ruiz Belvis Diagnostic & Treatment Ctr.
545 East 142nd Street

Jacobi Medical Center
1400 Pelham Parkway South

Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
234 East 149th Street

Morrisania Diagnostic & Treatment Center
1228 Gerard Avenue

North Central Bronx Hospital
3424 Kossuth Avenue


Coney Island Hospital
2601 Ocean Parkway

Kings County Hospital Center
451 Clarkson Avenue

Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center
760 Broadway


Bellevue Hospital Center
462 First Avenue @ 27th Street

Gouverneur Health Care Services
227 Madison Street

Harlem Hospital CenterRonald Brown Pavillion Bldg
530 W 137th St, 3rd Fl.

Metropolitan Hospital Center
1901 First Avenue @ 97th Street


Elmhurst Hospital Center
79-01 Broadway

Queens Hospital Center
82-70 164th Street

Be Tobacco-Free - a Take Care New York Priority

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New York City, killing nearly 10,000 New Yorkers every year. That’s why being tobacco-free is a top priority of Take Care New York, the City’s health policy. A third of smokers are killed by tobacco, and they die, on average, 14 years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, blindness, and Alzheimer's disease. Smoking also causes many problems in pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature labor, and low birthweight. If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Visit or call 311 for more information on Take Care New York.


Founded and headquartered in New York City, Pfizer Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets leading prescription medicines for humans and animals, as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer products. Pfizer’s philanthropic efforts focus primarily on expanding access to medicines to patients in need. Over the past year, Pfizer provided more than $3 million in free medicines to 17,000 low-income patients in HHC hospitals across New York City through the company’s Hospital Partnership Program.

Other Smoking Cessation Services Available in New York City

For help quitting smoking, call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1 (866) NY-QUITS (866-697-8487) or visit DOHMH’s Bureau of Tobacco Control maintains an online guide to “quit smoking” resources that are available for free or at nominal cost. For the complete resource guide, please visit