Quitting smoking is really hard. So hard, in fact, that the vast majority of people who quit smoking make multiple attempts before achieving success.
Here in lies the importance of the new $670,000 citywide media campaign from NYC's Health Dept. The goal is to encourage "all New Yorkers to quit smoking, regardless of the number of times they’ve tried to stop."
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, causing stroke, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, vascular disease and cancer.
This initiative is close to home for the Health Commissioner (and former smoker) Dr. Mary Bassett. She says, “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." She adds, "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.”
The Health Department encourages people trying to quit smoking to consider the following tips:
- Prepare yourself. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.
- Pick a quit date. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Soon, New Yorkers will see the media campaign on television, social media, subways, daily newspapers, and the Staten Island Ferry. It will consist of a video called Keep Trying to Quit Smoking and print ads.
The city also recently launched an app to help New Yorkers quit smoking called NYC HelpMeQuit. The app was developed with input from smokers trying to quit. it includes tips to stop cravings; social support from other people using HelpMeQuit and Facebook friends; connection to existing smoking cessation resources and in-app games to distract from smoking. The app can also track progress through money saved through un-purchased cigarettes and keeps a count of time since they quit smoking.
New 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).