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Half A Million New Yorkers Started Smoking Again In Past Year

Armen Hareyan's picture

Smoking in New York City

More than half of New York City smokers tried to quit last year, but 80% of them - some 500,000 people - relapsed within three months.

Fortunately, relapse doesn't mean failure. Quitting often requires several attempts, and nicotine replacement can double the chance of quitting successfully. To help smokers quit for good, the Health Department is giving away nicotine patches and gum for a limited time only. Callers to 311 have claimed more than 5,500 patches and almost 700 gum packets since the giveaway launched last week.

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"Most New Yorkers who smoked have already quit," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the Health Commissioner. "If you are still smoking or if you want to try to quit again, nicotine replacement can double your chance of success. We are giving away nicotine patches and gum for a limited time, so New Yorkers who want help to quit should call 311 now."

In a Health Department survey of 2,400 smokers and recent quitters, almost half of those questioned about their reasons for relapse cited a stressful situation as the cause. An additional 20% relapsed because they were in a social situation where alcohol was served. Other factors that smokers cited as reasons for relapsing included the aroma of cigarette smoke, driving and, for women, the end of pregnancy.

Smokers often associate tobacco with other daily rituals and may need to change some habits to quit successfully. "Everyday situations can make you feel like smoking and trigger a relapse," Dr. Frieden said. "You shouldn't feel ashamed or alone if it takes you many tries to quit. Knowing your triggers before you try to quit can make a difference the next time you try."

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in New York City. Cigarettes kill 9,000 New Yorkers a year