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Press Release

Press Release # 035-14
Monday, September 15, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT: Jean Weinberg/Veronica Lewin:, (347) 396-4177

New Health Department Data Show Increase in Adult Smoking Rate

For the first time since 2007, there are over one million smokers in New York City New “Imagine for Life” ad campaign encourages light daily smokers and non-daily smokers to quit

September 15, 2014 – The Health Department today released new 2013 data showing 16.1 percent of adult New Yorkers are smokers, a significant increase from the city’s lowest recorded adult smoking rate of 14 percent in 2010. For the first time since 2007, there are over one million smokers in New York City who are at risk of developing a smoking-related illness, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, emphysema, lung and other cancers.

The Health Department also launched a new ad campaign today called “Imagine for Life” that focuses on the experience of light daily smokers and non-daily smokers (those smoking some days but not every day). Non-daily and light daily smokers now make up 76 percent of the New York City smoking population, compared with 64 percent in 2002. The new ads inform smokers that even the minimal health effects they feel after smoking, including a morning cough, are indications of their bodies’ negative reaction to smoking, and are just a preview of the daily suffering caused by smoking-related illness. The television ads will run for the next four weeks. Subway ads for this campaign will run during the month of October.

“We must take this increase in New York City smokers very seriously,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We cannot lose ground on the many successes we’ve had in reducing smoking in our city. Our new ads remind New Yorkers that there is no safe level of smoking. Even smokers who have cut back are at risk for devastating health consequences.”

Though smoking remains the leading cause of preventable premature death in New York City, funding to the tobacco control program has been incrementally cut in the last five years. There is much more work to be done to help people quit and prevent youth from starting to smoke.

Quitting smoking is the most important thing a person can do to improve his or her health. Within days of quitting smoking, health begins to improve and the body begins to heal. Help is available to all smokers who want to quit, including free medication for those who qualify.

View the new ads on the NYCHealth YouTube page.

Smokers can visit or call 311 or 866-NYQUITS for help.