On June 1, the minimum price of cigarettes in New York City increased from $10.50 to $13 per pack, the highest in the nation. Depending on how heavy your habit, that adds up really fast. “For someone who smokes cigarettes regularly, cigarettes can cost as much as two months’ worth of groceries,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.
“For over a decade, NYC has led the nation in policies to improve public health by reducing the number of New Yorkers who smoke,” said Council Health Chair Mark Levine. It is quite remarkable what has been accomplished since 2002 when 21.5% of residents smoked – the number last year was 13.1% – but the city wants it down to 12% by 2020 and are offering help for anyone willing to quit.
“There are still more than 850,000 New York adults who smoke. In addition, about 15,000 New York City youth smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes are the only consumer products that – when used as intended – kill up to half of long-term users”, NYC Department of Health said in a statement today, as it announced the latest initiative to combat smoking:
- Free nicotine patches and lozenges are available today through Wednesday, June 27 by applying online at nysmokefree.com or calling 1-866-NY-QUITS. Eligible enrollees will receive a NYC Quits Kit which includes a coaching guide in four languages, and a four-week supply of patches and/or lozenges depending on the number of cigarettes smoked daily.
- Check out the NYC HelpMeQuit mobile app. 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 (such as the Quitline and a map of nearby clinics); and in-app games to distract from smoking. You can track your 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.
“Smoking addiction is a difficult reality that many New Yorkers, myself included, have struggled to overcome,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. 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.
Last August, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed seven bills into law to reduce tobacco use by:
- raising the minimum prices for all tobacco products, including cigarettes, and imposing a new 10 percent local tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes;
- 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;
- increasing the fee for a cigarette retail dealer license;
- requiring all residential buildings to create a smoking policy and disclosing it to both current and prospective tenants;
- prohibiting smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in common areas in multiple dwellings with fewer than ten units; and
- banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies.