New York's Two 'Top Docs' Urge New Yorkers to Quit Smoking as New Cigarette Tax Goes into Effect

City and State Launch Media Campaigns and Provide Help to Quit Smoking

New York, NY (June 3, 2008) – State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F. Daines and City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden today jointly urged New Yorkers to quit smoking rather than pay an extra $1.25 per pack in state cigarette tax that takes effect today. The state tax on a pack of cigarettes now totals $2.75. New York City has an additional $1.50 tax bringing its total tax to $4.25 per pack – the highest cigarette taxes in the nation. Cigarettes will now cost more than $8 in New York City and more than $6 across the rest of the state.

The two health commissioners spoke at the Children's Museum of Manhattan to acknowledge the enormous benefit this measure will have for today's children and for future generations. Cigarette taxes are the most effective way to reduce smoking because higher prices drive people to quit smoking and prevent younger children from starting smoking.

"Today is a great day in New York because this tax increase will save thousands of lives," said Commissioner Daines, citing data that each increase in state or federal cigarette taxes since the 1950s has been associated with a reduction in cigarette consumption. "Young people are particularly sensitive to price increases. If people don't become addicted to cigarettes as teens, they almost never become smokers later in life."

"Raising the price of cigarettes will help thousands of adults quit and prevent many young people from starting smoking," said Commissioner Frieden. "At a pack a day, smoking is now a $3,000 a year habit in New York City. Quitting now will not only improve your health, but it will save money you can use for yourself or your family, whether it's your kids' college fund, a summer vacation, or whatever else you want."

Both departments are running media campaigns encouraging New Yorkers to use the tax hike as motivation to quit smoking. Governor David A. Paterson proclaimed June 3rd as "New York Quits Smoking Day," urging New Yorkers to take advantage of free cessation assistance and nicotine products from the NYS Smokers Quitline. The state health department launched a "Never a Better Time to Quit" campaign targeting New York State's 2.7 million smokers with print and radio ads. The state is also contributing to a $20 million national "Become an Ex" TV ad campaign sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation.

In the city, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proclaimed June 3rd "NYC Quits Day" and the city health department launched television, radio and print ads, and special nicotine patch giveaways to urge New Yorkers to quit smoking today. The campaign shows New Yorkers what they are giving up to smoke – from shopping sprees and plasma TVs to day care and health insurance. New Yorkers can visit www.nyc.gov/quitjune3 for more information.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, New York can expect the $1.25 cigarette tax increase to prevent more than 243,000 New York kids alive today from smoking; spur 140,000 New York smokers to quit for good; save more than 37,000 New York residents from smoking-caused deaths; produce more than $5 billion in health care savings over the long term; and raise about $265 million this year in new state revenue.

The New York State Smokers' Quitline is prepared for an increase in calls from smokers seeking help with quitting. The Quitline provides free coaching and quit plans, free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, free tips and information, and free online help. The Quitline phone number is 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487). Residents of New York City can call 311 to be linked to the Quitline. The web address is www.nysmokefree.com.

Commissioners Daines and Frieden also called on health care providers to talk to their patients who smoke and actively encourage and assist them in quitting.

Facts

  • On average, smokers die 14 years younger than non-smokers.
  • Smoking increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other cancers.
  • Second-hand smoke also causes heart disease and cancer and contributes to asthma and other respiratory illness.
  • Infants with a parent who smokes are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Babies and children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to have asthma, bronchitis, ear infections, and pneumonia.
  • Smokers who quit rapidly lower their risk of heart disease and stroke and steadily reduce their risk of lung cancer.

Tips on Quitting

  • Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
  • Visit your doctor for support and advice with your quit plan.
  • Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.
  • Make a list of family and friends who will support you.
  • Avoid triggers, including alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
  • Exercise to relieve stress, and improve you mood health. Try a brisk 30-minute walk at least four days a week
  • Consider using a safe nicotine alternative such as replacement patches, gum or lozenges, which can double your chance of quitting.