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Press Release

Press Release # 004-11
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Susan Craig/Erin Hughes:

New Public Education Campaign Shows Smoking’s Devastating Health Consequences; Ads Describe How Smoking Can Lead to “Suffering Every Minute of Every Day”

Today, the Health Department Kicks-off Annual 16-Day Nicotine Patch and Gum Giveaway; New Yorkers Can Apply Through NYC.GOV or 311

Suffering every minute of every dayMarch 9, 2011 – To encourage New Yorkers to quit smoking, the New York City Health Department kicks off its annual Nicotine Patch and Gum Program today, which will run through March 24. To coincide with the annual patch and gum giveaway, the department is running a bold new public-education campaign that shows the long-term suffering smoking can cause. Instead of focusing on mortality, the campaign tells viewers how dying from smoking is rarely quick and never painless. It offers a poignant reminder that smoking can cause suffering every minute of every day. It focuses on two victims who are suffering from emphysema and stroke, two smoking-related illnesses that can alter lives forever and require family members to care for and support their sick loved ones.

“This year, cigarettes will kill 7,200 New Yorkers,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “But our conversations with smokers suggest that they are more motivated to quit by the suffering from smoking-related illnesses than by the risk of dying. Each year thousands of New Yorkers will suffer from smoking-induced strokes, heart attacks, debilitating lung diseases and cancers. We chose to highlight these life-altering problems in this campaign in the hope of encouraging more smokers to quit. If they need help quitting, they can call 311 or enroll in the Health Department’s free Nicotine Patch and Gum Giveaway Program online today.”

Smoking causes emphysema, a chronic, debilitating lung disease with no cure. Many of the 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the tiny air sacs in the lungs, and once these air sacs become destroyed, the damage cannot be reversed. This damage makes it very difficult to breathe and keep up with daily activities, including simple tasks such as walking up stairs. Four million Americans are suffering with emphysema as a result of smoking.

On average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. Cigarette smoking can nearly double a person's risk for stroke. Smoking leads to stroke by increasing dangerous plaque build-up inside arteries. This plaque can rupture and cause blood clots that block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. More than 1 million Americans are currently suffering the effects of a stroke caused by smoking.

Since 2003, the Health Department has distributed nicotine patches and gum at no cost to approximately 250,000 New York City smokers during its annual giveaway program, enabling an estimated 82,000 of them to quit. Last year alone, some 40,000 smokers accepted the offer. The agency’s “NYC Quits” Facebook page – – has become an online smoking cessation support network with more than 5,000 fans. Smokers who want help quitting can apply to get patches or gum at no cost by calling 311 or completing an easy online application at (in the search box type “NYC Quits”).

Quitting can be tough, but nicotine patches and gum can double your chances of success. Here are some tips to make quitting smoking easier:

  • Get the patchPrepare yourself. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and plan for situations that may tempt you to smoke.
  • Pick a quit date. Get rid of ashtrays and lighters, and all cigarettes.
  • Make your home and car smoke-free. It is healthier for others and will help you resist smoking.
  • Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
  • 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.

More information on quitting smoking is available at (in the search box type “NYC Quits”).