Giveaway Part Of Anti-Smoking Campaign
The city Health Department kicked off last week its ninth annual nicotine patch and gum program to help New Yorkers quit smoking.
The program, in partnership with the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, will run through Apr. 1. Since the nicotine patch and gum program began in 2006, it has helped almost 300,000 adult New Yorkers quit smoking and contributed to the city’s multi-pronged effort to reduce the prevalence of adult smoking to 15.5 percent and youth smoking to 8.5 percent.
To coincide with the patch and gum giveaway, the Health Department will run a series of powerful ads on television featuring Marie, a New Yorker who began smoking in high school. In her early forties, Marie was diagnosed with a disease caused by smoking that, over time, led to amputations of her foot, leg, and some fingers. She has been smoke-free since 2006 when she called 311 for help to quit, and has become a national spokesperson for quitting smoking.
Breaking a dependence and addiction to nicotine is not an easy task, but many New Yorkers have already done it. Using medications and counseling, like those provided during the give-away, makes a smoker twice as likely to be successful in quitting.
Despite the decreasing number of adult smokers across the five boroughs, smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death in New York City. Currently, nearly 1 million adults smoke in New York City.
Cigarettes are the only consumer products that, when used exactly as intended, kill up to one-third of regular users. By making the decision to quit, the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancers and many other illnesses are greatly reduced.
“There are many reasons to quit smoking that benefit the health of both yourself and your loved ones,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We know that most smokers want to quit and there is no better time to start than now. We encourage every New Yorker who wants to quit smoking to take advantage of our nicotine patch and gum program.”
Most smokers start using tobacco as youth or young adults. In New York City, 80 percent of smokers started smoking before they turned 21 years old. About 19,000 New York City public high school students currently smoke. Research shows that people who begin smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those that start at a later age.
To help keep youth from ever starting a deadly smoking habit, on Oct. 30, 2013, the City Council passed legislation making NewYork City the first major city in the United States to raise the minimum sale age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. Implementation of this law is set to take effect May 18, 2014.
“I started smoking at a time when I thought I was invincible and nothing could hurt me. Before I knew it, I was addicted,” said Marie, the face of this year’s campaign. “And at a pretty young age, I developed a disease caused by smoking. For all of you still smoking, young or old, the time to quit smoking is now. I used the patches to quit-they work.”
Eligible enrollees in the nicotine patch and gum program will receive a NYC Quits Kit booklet and up to a four week supply of patches and/or gum depending on number of cigarettes smoked daily. In addition, enrollees will receive follow up calls from the Quitline, as well as a relapse prevention email. Smokers who want help quitting can apply to get patches and/or gum at no cost by calling 311 or through nysmokefree.com.
Here are some quick tips to make quitting easier:
– Prepare yourself. Stand firm on your decision to quit and think about the benefits.
– Pick a date to quit. Write it down in a quit smoking journal that you can use during your quit attempt.
– Create a smoke-free environment. Eliminate all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
– Ask for support and encouragement. Inform your family, friends and co-workers of your decision.
– Find a quit buddy. Encourage another smoker to quit with you, or ask for support from a former smoker.
For more information on how to quit and stay smoke-free, call 311 to find a local quit smoking clinic or be transferred to the NYS Smokers’ Quitline; contact the NewYork State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS; visit facebook.com/ NYCQuits; or visit nyc.gov and search for “NYC Quits.”