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PR- 104-10
March 10, 2010


City Also Kicks-off Annual 16-Day Nicotine Patch and Gum Giveaway for New Yorkers Who Apply Through NYC.GOV or 311 From March 10 – 25

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley today launched a bold new public-education campaign to highlight the benefits of quitting smoking, and the consequences of continued smoking, as part of the Administration’s intensive efforts to raise awareness about the hazards of tobacco. The campaign, called “Reverse the Damage,” features stark images of lung cancer and heart disease along with an emphasis on the potential for a smoker’s body to heal after quitting. To encourage New Yorkers to quit smoking, the Mayor and Health Commissioner also kicked-off the City’s annual nicotine patch and gum giveaway program, which will run from March 10 though March 25. Smokers may apply by calling 311 or visiting

“For eight years, our Administration has tackled the problem of tobacco with a slate of initiatives that no government had ever before combined into a comprehensive strategy – and it has yielded extraordinary results,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “We have reduced the number of adult smokers by 350,000, prevented tens of thousands of premature deaths, and New York City’s smoking rate is now lower than at any time since we began keeping statistics on smoking more than 60 years ago. It’s never too late to quit smoking, and we want to help smokers does just that.”

“This year, cigarettes will kill more than 7,500 New Yorkers,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Thousands more will suffer smoking-induced strokes, heart attacks, debilitating lung diseases and cancers. Now is the time to start reversing the damage. We urge all New Yorkers who smoke to quit now.  If they need help quitting, they should call 311 or enroll online today.”

“Reverse the Damage” uses little-known facts to show how quickly the body starts to heal itself when a person stops smoking.  With each image comes a graphic reminder of the consequences of continuing to smoke – consequences that include heart attacks and cancerous tumors. The campaign, in English and Spanish, will feature TV spots and radio promotion, as well as online banners and print advertisements that will appear on subway and bus shelters across the City.

  • 20 minutes after you quit smoking, your blood pressure decreases.
  • 8 hours after you quit smoking, your blood oxygen level returns to normal.
  • 3 months after you quit smoking, your lung function improves up to 30%.
  • 1 year after you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack is cut in half.
  • 10 years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker.
  • 10 years after you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease is that of a person who never smoked.

Since 2003, the Health Department has distributed nicotine patches and gum to more than 200,000 New York City smokers during its annual giveaways, enabling an estimated 70,000 of them to quit. Last year alone, some 28,000 smokers accepted the offer. The agency’s “NYC Quits” Facebook page – – has become an online support system 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 online application at

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

  • Prepare 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


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958

Jessica Scaperotti   (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
(212) 788-5290

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