June 8, 2015

Press Release # 023-15
Monday, June 8, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Christopher Miller/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Health Department Releases New Anti-Smoking Ads Featuring Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett

As a former smoker, Commissioner Bassett encourages New Yorkers to quit smoking in her new ad campaign

Text “NYCQUITS” to 877-877 to receive real-time, around-the-clock advice, support, tips and encouragement

The Health Department today released a new series of anti-smoking ads featuring Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Health Commissioner and herself a former smoker. Commissioner Bassett is the Health Department’s first Commissioner to appear in an anti-smoking ad. In the ads, Dr. Bassett discusses how she started smoking at age 16 and her eventual decision to quit the habit for good while she received her medical training at Harlem Hospital. She informs New Yorkers who smoke that while quitting wasn’t easy, she was inevitably successful in her efforts and feels healthier and happier as a result of her decision. The TV, subway, newspaper, radio and social media ads will run through June 28. View the Commissioner’s new TV ads on the NYCHealth YouTube page .

“I was a doctor in training before I finally stopped smoking cigarettes,” said Commissioner Bassett. “I knew I didn’t want to smoke forever, and that quitting would only get harder the longer I put it off. I’m so glad I quit smoking, and I encourage others to do the same. If anyone can quit smoking, it’s a New Yorker. ”

The Health Department also unveiled a new texting program, “Text NYC Quits,” that provides advice and encouragement for New Yorkers who are trying to quit smoking and stay smoke free. “Text NYC Quits” provides smokers and recent quitters with real-time, around-the-clock advice, support, tips and encouragement. Whether someone is thinking about quitting, has set a quit date or are four days smoke-free, “Text NYC Quits” has supportive messages to keep quitters motivated. To sign up, simply text “NYCQUITS” to 877-877.

Smoking remains common in the City, as smokers made up 16.1 percent of the adult population in 2013. While smoking rates have decreased since 2002 when the rate stood at 21.5 percent, the most recent numbers on smoking are still higher than the previous low of 14 percent in 2010. There are currently over 1 million smokers in New York City.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in New York City and kills an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 New Yorkers each year. There is still work to do to help people quit smoking and prevent youth from starting smoking.

The most important step a smoker can take to improve his or her health is to quit smoking. Help is available to all New Yorkers who want to quit by calling 311, 1-866-NYQUITS or by visiting nysmokefree.com. Free medications and counseling are available. Using these services can make smokers twice as likely to successfully quit smoking.