Smoking prevalence in NYC has decreased dramatically over the past 20 years from 22% in 2002 to 9% in 2021, but inequities remain
New Yorkers who want to quit smoking can talk to a Quit Coach and apply for free nicotine medications by calling the NYS Smokers’ Quitline or Asian Smokers’ Quitline
June 5, 2023 — The Health Department today launched a new media campaign to help New Yorkers access tobacco treatment resources. New Yorkers who want to quit smoking can contact the NYS Smokers’ Quitline (NYSSQL) or Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ), where they can speak with a Quit Coach, and those who are eligible — most are — can receive a free NYC Quits starter kit of nicotine medications (nicotine patches and lozenges). People who stop smoking can add years to their life and improve their health. Nicotine medications plus counseling can double someone’s chance of successfully quitting.
“The facts are clear, smoking remains a leading risk for preventable disease, suffering, and death for New Yorkers, and while Big Tobacco will do whatever it takes to keep people smoking, we have tools and the stubborn commitment to help our city fight back,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “This is especially true for people of color and ethnic minority communities like my own, the Asian Pacific Islander community, who are specifically targeted by industry messaging to smoke. All smokers in New York City should use free and available resources like the NYS Smokers’ Quitline, to start leading a healthier life today.”
“There is no health benefit to nicotine addiction, which is often facilitated by smoking. The adverse health effects are well documented and consistently lead to pain, suffering and, most tragically, premature death,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald. “The New York State Department of Health, along with our partners at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, remain committed to providing exceptional resources to New Yorkers that can help them quit smoking and improve their overall quality of life.”
The $1.5M “Every New Yorker!” campaign is running citywide via television, radio, and digital ads, LinkNYC, and the Staten Island Ferry from June 5 through June 30.
Tobacco use can cause stroke, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, vascular disease, and more than 10 types of cancer. The smoking prevalence rate in New York City has decreased dramatically over the past 20 years from 22% in 2002 to 9% in 2021 according to the 2021 New York City Community Health Survey, but some New Yorkers continue to smoke at higher rates.
These smoking inequities exist because some groups of people are more exposed to harmful factors that encourage smoking (like industry messaging or access to harmful products) and have fewer protective factors (like access to healthy coping resources or treatment support). Intersecting identities and forms of injustice that people experience can contribute to even more nuanced influences on behavior. In 2019-2020, Asian/Pacific Islander men born outside the U.S. were more likely to smoke than U.S.-born Asian/Pacific Islander men (20% vs. 5%). The data tell a different story when looking at Black and Latino men, who were more likely to smoke if they were born in the U.S. (23% and 21%, respectively) than outside the U.S. (5% and 11%, respectively).
To better support communities most impacted by smoking inequities, tobacco treatment programs have launched in the Tremont and East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Centers. New Yorkers who smoke or vape can access counseling and a starter kit of medication support (nicotine patches and lozenges) - whether or not they’re ready to quit right now. Nicotine medications like patches and lozenges replace the nicotine that people get from smoking or vaping without the harmful and cancer-causing chemicals. Nicotine medications are safe with no or mild side effects when used correctly.
Also, the Health Department recently released a media campaign called “Lighting Up” in May which is tailored towards Asian New Yorkers. In New York City, 2016 data showed low treatment uptake among Asian New Yorkers: Asian/Pacific Islander New Yorkers who smoke were less likely (9%) to have used nicotine medications in the past year than Black (24%), Latino/a (26%), and White (20%) adults who smoke. The media campaign was developed with consultation from Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, who also engaged in complementary community outreach activities throughout the spring.
“While smoking prevalence rates have decreased dramatically across New York City in general, rates among the city’s Asian Pacific Islander population remain high, particularly among Chinese American men. Understanding the social determinants driving these numbers within the API community in New York and beyond is critical to informing how we decrease smoking rates in our communities,” said Kaushal Challa, CEO, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. “The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center applauds Dr. Vasan and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's ‘Lighting Up’ campaign for partnering with us to provide culturally appropriate and relevant public messaging and media outreach to a community we know intimately, because we are that community.”
Tobacco Treatment Resources
MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue/Shari Logan