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Press Release

Press Release # 031-07
Wednesday, May 2, 2007

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR MEDIA: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Andrew Tucker (
Sara Markt (


Only Two Weeks Left to Call 311 for Nicotine Patches or Gum; Nicotine Replacement Can Double the Chance of Quitting for Good

NEW YORK CITY – May 2, 2007 – Quitting is easy, Mark Twain said—"I've done it a thousand times." More than half of New York City smokers tried to quit last year, but 80% of them—some 500,000 people—relapsed within three months. Fortunately, relapse doesn't mean failure. Quitting often requires several attempts, and nicotine replacement can double the chance of quitting successfully. To help smokers quit for good, the Health Department is giving away nicotine patches and gum for a limited time only. Callers to 311 have claimed more than 5,500 patches and almost 700 gum packets since the giveaway launched last week.

"Most New Yorkers who smoked have already quit," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the Health Commissioner. "If you are still smoking or if you want to try to quit again, nicotine replacement can double your chance of success. We are giving away nicotine patches and gum for a limited time, so New Yorkers who want help to quit should call 311 now."

In a Health Department survey of 2,400 smokers and recent quitters, almost half of those questioned about their reasons for relapse cited a stressful situation as the cause. An additional 20% relapsed because they were in a social situation where alcohol was served. Other factors that smokers cited as reasons for relapsing included the aroma of cigarette smoke, driving and, for women, the end of pregnancy.

Smokers often associate tobacco with other daily rituals and may need to change some habits to quit successfully. "Everyday situations can make you feel like smoking and trigger a relapse," Dr. Frieden said. "You shouldn't feel ashamed or alone if it takes you many tries to quit. Knowing your triggers before you try to quit can make a difference the next time you try."

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in New York City. Cigarettes kill 9,000 New Yorkers a year—more than 25 every day—and more than 1 million people still smoke. If you are a smoker, quitting is the most important thing you can do for you health. Here are 10 ways to make quitting easier:

  1. Prepare yourself. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.
  2. Pick a quit date. Get rid of ashtrays and lighters, and all cigarettes.
  3. Have a smoke-free car and home. It is healthier for others and will help you resist smoking.
  4. Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
  5. Get a quit buddy. Ask a smoker to quit with you, or find someone who has already quit who you can talk to for support.
  6. Notice what triggers cravings. Alcohol, coffee, and stress can make you feel like smoking—so can seeing others smoke.
  7. Consider using medications. The nicotine patch or gum and medications can double your chance of success.
  8. Help yourself cope. Drink a lot of water to help with cravings. Exercise to relieve stress.
  9. Get your mind off smoking. Get busy with a simple task, talk to a friend or take a walk. Avoid places and situations you associate with smoking.
  10. Stay away from that first cigarette! Having even one can make you start back up. Cravings will lessen the longer you resist them.
Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking
In 24 hours
  • Your chance of heart attack drops.
In 2 days
  • Your ability to smell and taste improves.
In 2 to 3 weeks
  • Your circulation gets better.
  • You can walk more easily.
  • Your lung function improves.
In 1 month
  • Your cough, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Your lungs start to repair themselves, reducing the chance of infection.
In 1 year
  • Your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
In 5 years
  • Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus drops by about half.
  • Your risk of stroke and heart disease begins to decrease to that of non-smokers.
In 10 years
  • Your risk of lung cancer is about half that of continuing smokers.
In 15 years
  • Your risk of death returns to the level of people who have never smoked.