Health Department Launches Graphic New Anti-Smoking Media Campaign

Type 2 diabetes, liver cancer and colorectal cancer are all caused by smoking

From today through Thursday, March 7, New Yorkers who want help to quit smoking can apply for free nicotine patches and lozenges by visiting or calling 1-866-NY-QUITS

Smoking kills about 12,000 New Yorkers every year

Smoking = Suffering
February 20, 2019 – The Health Department today launched “Smoking = Suffering,” a new campaign that highlights three more reasons to quit smoking: diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. Tobacco continues to be a leading cause of preventable death in New York City, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually. Although adult smoking rates in New York City declined from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 13.4 percent in 2017, there are still almost 900,000 adult New Yorkers who smoke. Cigarettes are the only consumer products that – when used as intended – kill up to half of people who use them long-term. The media campaign begins today and will run through March 7 on TV, social media and radio. The campaign also kicks off a special free nicotine patch and lozenge giveaway to help New Yorkers quit smoking. To enroll in the giveaway or talk to a quit coach, visit or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487). The program is conducted in partnership with the New York State Smokers’ Quitline.

“Quitting smoking is the most important step New Yorkers can take to improve their health,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “You may know that smoking can lead to lung cancer and heart attacks, but it can also cause many other heath conditions, including diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. I encourage all New Yorkers who smoke to contact the Quitline.”

Using counseling and cessation medications, such as nicotine patches and lozenges, can double the chances of quitting successfully. Eligible enrollees in the giveaway will receive a supply of nicotine patches, lozenges and a coaching guide. New Yorkers can also talk to their health care provider about medication and counseling options. Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover services to help you quit.

“If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do for your health,” said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Sonia Angell. “Using medications and counseling, both of which are provided during this free program, can make New Yorkers twice as likely to successfully quit smoking.”

“Living with cancer and diabetes is a difficult existence,” said Staten Island Borough President James L. Oddo. “Dying from these heinous diseases is, in a word, brutal. We should do everything we possibly can to avoid these diseases, and that clearly includes smoking. We have used our platform at Borough Hall to educate and inspire the people of Staten Island to choose a healthier lifestyle. From getting enough sleep, to exercise, to abandoning sugary drinks, and getting the necessary screenings as we age. I support and applaud all efforts to help make the folks who want to be healthier actually lead healthier lives. From diabetes to many cancers, smoking is deadly. I encourage anyone who has thought about quitting to do it, and I hope this campaign can assist those who want to quit to take that next step.”

“Smoking does indeed equal suffering- for smokers, their friends, families and all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “I can never forget the grief and anguish I felt when my grandfather died from smoking.  Everyone suffers from the deadliness of smoking.  Now we know that smoking causes diabetes, liver cancer, colorectal cancer as well as lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease.  In 2017 my bill creating licensing for e-cigarette retailers, capping the number of licenses and banning pharmacies from selling e-cigarettes was part of Mayor deBlasio’s package of laws to reduce tobacco use.  I’m calling on all New Yorkers to encourage all the smokers in your life to quit smoking, to use counseling and smoking cessation medications to save their lives.  I highly commend the NYC Health Department for this effort.”

In August 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills into law to reduce tobacco use, which included banning the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies; raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products; capping the number of tobacco retailers citywide; creating a retail license for e-cigarettes that was not open to pharmacies, effectively banning e-cigarettes from pharmacies; capping the number of e-cigarette retailers; and promoting smoke-free spaces in residential settings.

Tips to Make Quitting Easier

  • Find your reasons. Make a list of your reasons for quitting, and read it often.
  • Pick a quit date. Choose a day that works for you and gives you time to prepare. Throw out all of your cigarettes beforehand, and get rid of ashtrays and lighters.
  • Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
  • Notice and avoid what triggers cravings. Alcohol, coffee, stress, and being around others who smoke can all trigger cravings. Notice what makes you feel like smoking so that you can avoid those situations, change your routine, and have a plan to deal with your triggers.

Don’t Give Up

  • It takes almost everyone multiple tries before they quit smoking for good. If you start smoking again, don’t be discouraged – try again!
  • You haven’t failed – you have learned about the triggers and situations that make you want to smoke. Now you can try to avoid those triggers or change your routine.
  • It’s never too late to quit. Quitting smoking will improve your health no matter how old you are or how long you have smoked. Throw out your cigarettes and start again.

Connect to Other Resources

  • Visit and search “NYC Quits.”
  • Visit and search “Health Map” to find local quit smoking programs.
  • Visit
  • To get a free starter kit of quit-smoking medications or talk to a quit coach, visit or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).



MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Buhle:(347) 396-4177,