Health Department Launches Media Campaign Targeting Chinese Male Smokers

In New York City, nearly a quarter of Asian men smoke cigarettes, and lung cancer among Chinese men increased by 70 percent over the past 15 years

Free, one-on-one quit smoking counseling is available in Cantonese and Mandarin to New Yorkers through the Asian Smokers’ Quitline

Anti-smoking media campaign targeting Chinese male smokers

June 4, 2018 — The Health Department today launched a media campaign to encourage Chinese men to quit smoking. In New York City, nearly a quarter of Asian men smoke cigarettes, the highest of all race and ethnic groups (23 percent, versus 18 percent of Whites, 17 percent of Latinos, and 14 percent of Blacks), and lung cancer deaths among Chinese men increased by 70 percent in the past 15 years. The campaign, developed in partnership with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, is running in Cantonese and Mandarin on Chinese-language television and newspapers. New Yorkers who speak Cantonese and Mandarin can receive free quit smoking medication and confidential counseling from the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, a nationwide quit smoking service funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by calling 1-800-838-8917 or visiting

Tobacco is a leading contributor to preventable, premature death in New York City, killing an estimated 12,000 people annually. 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. Last Friday, as part of the legislation, the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes increased to $13 — the highest price pack in the nation.

“We have made considerable progress in driving down the rates of smoking among adults, but Chinese men still have disproportionately high rates of smoking,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We hope this campaign motivates Chinese men to quit smoking – it is the most important thing they can do to improve their health.”

“Smoking addiction is a struggle for many New Yorkers, myself included,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “I am saddened to hear about the increase in cancer rates among Chinese men and hope that this media campaign builds awareness and helps lower smoking rates in the community. I thank the de Blasio administration for their commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles for all New Yorkers.”

“The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center applauds the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for launching a Chinese language media campaign aimed at reducing the high rates of smoking in our community. Tobacco use among Asian men has increased steadily over the past decade even though overall smoking in New York City has declined as result of the city’s comprehensive tobacco control policies. We thank Commissioner Bassett for her leadership in making sure that New Yorkers with limited English proficiency benefit from anti-smoking public health campaigns and have effective access to smoking cessation resources,” said Jane T. Eng, President & CEO, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.

“These statistics plainly show that more outreach needs to be done to encourage Chinese males to quit smoking, and I am heartened to see the City of New York prioritizing the health and well-being of our community,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “Our city has the manpower, knowledge, and resources ready and able to help people quit. I expect these outreach efforts in Mandarin and Cantonese to see great results in our community, and I look forward to working together to curb smoking throughout the city.”

“As tobacco use and lung cancer continue to disproportionately impact the Chinese community, the City's new health awareness campaign, made available in Cantonese and Mandarin, will encourage more Chinese New Yorkers to access the resources they need to overcome this habit and make better choices for their health and wellness in the long-term,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “It's alarming that while New York City saw a decrease in lung cancer deaths overall, Chinese New Yorkers saw a staggering 70% increase. I look forward to continuing the partnership with Commissioner Bassett and local organizations like Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to push for more culturally competent solutions to address the unique health disparities faced by the Chinese community in our city.”

“The harmful effects of cigarette smoking on the individual and collective health of New Yorkers have been clear for decades, which prompted our city years ago to launch innovative efforts at reducing our smoking rate. However, we must go the extra mile and target specific populations where these campaigns have come up short,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “Chinese men continue to use tobacco at higher rates than other groups and have experienced a significant increase in lung cancer deaths. A culturally-competent, smoking-cessation campaign specific to these individuals may help increase success in curbing those troubling statistics, and I commend the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for taking this added step that could help save lives.”

Using cessation medications, such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, can double the chances of quitting successfully.

Tips to make quitting easier:

  • Find your reasons. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.
  • Pick a quit date. Choose a day that works for you and gives you time to prepare. Throw out all of your cigarettes beforehand, and get rid of ashtrays and lighters.
  • Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
  • Notice and avoid 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, change your routine, and have a plan to deal with your triggers.
  • Keep trying. It takes almost everyone multiple tries to quit smoking, so don’t be afraid to try again. You haven’t failed — you have learned more about your triggers. Throw out your cigarettes and start again.

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