Health Department Launches New Anti-Smoking Media Campaign Featuring Commissioner Bassett and Her Quit Smoking “Number”

Almost everyone who successfully quits smoking requires multiple attempts; tobacco use kills an estimated 12,000 New Yorkers annually

The Health Department recently launched NYC HelpMeQuit, an app to help New Yorkers quit smoking

February 20, 2018 — The Health Department today launched a new media campaign, “Your Number,” featuring Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett, who shares the number of tries it took her to stop smoking. The campaign encourages New Yorkers to quit smoking, regardless of the number of times they have already tried to stop. Almost everyone who successfully quits smoking requires multiple attempts. In New York City, 867,000 adults (13.1 percent) and 15,000 adolescents (5.8 percent) use tobacco products. Tobacco use is a leading contributor to premature, preventable death, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually in New York City and impacting the quality of life for thousands more. Tobacco use can cause stroke, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, vascular disease and more than 10 types of cancer. The $670,000 citywide media campaign will run on television, social media, subways, daily newspapers, and the Staten Island Ferry. Keep Trying to Quit Smoking video, and the print ads (PDF). Smoking Cessation Resources, including the recently launched NYC HelpMeQuit app available at the Apple or Google Play stores.

NYC Quits“As a former smoker, I know how difficult it is to quit. I struggled to quit smoking, and it took me five times to quit for good,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Quitting smoking is the most important step a smoker can take to improve their health. We encourage people who have tried to quit smoking to try again. We’re here to help.”

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death here and around the world, and a major cause of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.  “As anyone knows who’s ever tried to stop smoking, or seen a friend or family member try to stop, it often takes several tries before a smoker is successfully able to quit for good.  It’s worth the effort, and the Health Department stands ready to help New Yorkers who are ready to try kick the habit.”

“Smoking is scientifically proven to cause strokes, diabetes, lung disease, and other damaging ailments,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend Health Commissioner Bassett for sharing her personal story of trying to quit smoking five times before finally dropping the unhealthy habit. I urge all Brooklynites to heed the warning calls and take ownership of their health by quitting smoking for good, however long it takes.”

“‘Your Number’ will save lives,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “Smoking is an addiction that takes its worst toll on low income communities, where more people smoke and chronic respiratory illnesses disrupt day to day activities for children and adults. The ‘Your Number’ campaign offers free assistance and support for New Yorkers who want to quit smoking. This is a major step in improving health outcomes and eliminating health disparities throughout the city.”

The Health Department encourages people trying to quit smoking to consider the following tips:

  1. Prepare yourself. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.
  2. Pick a quit date. Throw out all of your cigarettes beforehand, and get rid of ashtrays and lighters.
  3. Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
  4. Stay away from that first cigarette. Smoking even one cigarette can easily become a regular habit again. Cravings will lessen the longer you don’t smoke. If you can quit for three months, you’ll likely quit for good.
  5. Notice 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 or change your routine.

NYC QuitsNew Yorkers who want to quit smoking can get a free starter kit of quit-smoking medications or talk to a quit coach by calling the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).

Last month, the Health Department launched the new NYC HelpMeQuit mobile app, a free tool to help New Yorkers quit smoking. Developed with input from smokers trying to quit, HelpMeQuit includes tips to stop cravings; social support from other people using HelpMeQuit and Facebook friends; connection to existing smoking cessation resources (such as the Quitline and a map of nearby clinics); and in-app games to distract from smoking. The app helps New Yorkers track their progress through money saved by not purchasing cigarettes; cigarettes not smoked; badges earned for reaching milestones; and time – down to the hour – since they quit smoking. 

In August 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed several bills into law to reduce tobacco use, including raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products; capping and reducing through attrition the number of tobacco retailers citywide; creating a retail license for e-cigarettes and capping the number of e-cigarette retailers; and banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies.



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