Health Department Launches Anti-Smoking “Greatest Hits” Public Awareness Campaign

From today through April 5, New Yorkers can apply for free nicotine patches or gum online at or by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS

In New York City, m
ore than 934,000 adults and 15,000 youth still smoke, and an estimated 12,000 New Yorkers die from tobacco-related illnesses annually

March 16, 2017 – The Health Department today announced a new anti-smoking television ad campaign highlighting the health risks of smoking. The ads, a collection of the Health Department’s hard-hitting educational campaigns since 2006, show the truth about the dangerous consequences of smoking. Smoking can cause illnesses like emphysema, cancer, stroke and heart disease and even lead to death. In New York City, more than 934,000 adults and 15,000 youth still smoke, and an estimated 12,000 New Yorkers die from tobacco-related illnesses annually.

Along with the campaign, the Health Department is promoting a free, limited-time patch and gum giveaway. Smokers who want help quitting can apply for free patches or gum by completing an easy online application at or calling 1-866-NY-QUITS. The giveaway, in partnership with the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, will run through April 5. All New York City smokers may be eligible for additional free treatment, even if they’ve used Quitline services recently.

Bronx resident Marie“As a former smoker, I know how hard it is to quit,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It took me many times to quit smoking and I’m so thankful I kept trying. I urge New Yorkers who smoke to think hard about the devastating consequences of smoking and quit before you develop these preventable, tobacco-related illnesses.”

Breaking an addiction to tobacco is not easy, but thousands of New Yorkers have already done it. From 2006-2016, the Health Department’s anti-smoking campaigns have generated more than 700,000 requests for help. Since 2002, the City’s adult smoking rate has dropped by 33 percent (from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015), and the youth smoking rate has dropped by 67 percent between 2001 and 2015 (from 17.6 percent to 5.8 percent). These reductions are estimated to have prevented 136,000 deaths in New York City by 2060. 


The Health Department and the City Council dramatically reduced tobacco use through the passage of the historic Smoke-Free Air Act in 2002 and subsequent extensions of the legislation. Today, smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not permitted in bars, restaurants, hospital grounds, parks and beaches. A 2016 amendment banned the use of smokeless tobacco in sports arenas. The Health Department also worked with the Council to restrict sales of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to people 21 and over and increase prices for tobacco products through taxation, minimum pricing and discount restrictions.

“New York City has made great strides in reducing the smoking rate among adults and youth. But with smoking still the leading preventable cause of death here and around the world, it’s important that the Health Department is renewing its focus on anti-smoking awareness and prevention efforts,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.

“New Yorkers need to know that the choice to quit smoking is in their hands, and that by doing so, they can save themselves from a host of preventable illnesses,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “These campaigns have consistently given people the tough truth when it comes to tobacco, along with the resources they need to lead healthier, smoke-free lives. I thank Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and her outstanding team at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for this truly lifesaving work.”

In addition to these policy efforts, the Health Department also offers free help to New Yorkers to quit smoking. The new limited-time giveaway is the NYC Quits Kit, which includes a coaching guide in four languages and a two-week supply of patches and/or gum depending on the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Eligible enrollees also have access to free quit coaching support and telephone counseling.

Data show that using medications and counseling – both of which are provided during this free program – makes a smoker twice as likely to be successful in quitting. It is important to learn healthy strategies to take charge of the way you deal with stress and triggers.

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.
  • Create a smoke-free environment by throwing away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Ask for support and encouragement. Inform your family, friends and coworkers of your decision.
  • Find a quit buddy. Encourage another smoker to quit with you, or ask for support from a former smoker.

Live longer, enjoy a healthier life and join the many New Yorkers who have already quit smoking. For more information on how to quit:

  • Call 311 to find a local quit smoking clinic
  • Contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline (1-866-NY-QUITS)
  • Visit and search “NYC Quits”

This media campaign can be viewed here.



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