Starting March 31, 2009, New York City smokers will have to pay $9 or more for a pack of cigarettes. The 62-cent federal excise tax increase that takes effect on April 1st will push the cost of cigarettes to more than $250 a month for people smoking a pack a day. As many as 20,000 adult New Yorkers are expected to quit smoking as a result of the measure – a response that would prevent more than 6,000 premature deaths. To help New Yorkers who want to quit, the City will offer free nicotine patches at Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) locations and other community sites across the five boroughs. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit one of the locations below to take advantage of this one-day giveaway.
“Now is the time to quit,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. “Smoking is hurting your health and your wallet. For the many New Yorkers looking to save money during these tough times, this is a great way to do it. You will feel better, your families will be safer, and you will save thousands of dollars.”
“Smokers who quit at any age reduce their risk of tobacco-related disease and prolong their lives,” said Alan D. Aviles, president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. “Over the past three years, we have helped more than 25,000 patients to quit smoking successfully. Research suggests that at least one-third of these patients, or about 8,000 former smokers, will avoid smoking-related disease and premature death as a result.”
QuitSmoking Clinics at the city public hospitals provide comprehensive treatment for tobacco use. HHC offers individuals a variety of ways to stop smoking, including nicotine replacement therapy, counseling and case management to help patients remain engaged in treatment. New Yorkers can call 311 for more information.
Tax increases are the single most effective way to help smokers quit. When New York State’s cigarette tax rose by $1.25 per pack last year (from $1.50 to $2.75), the jolt prompted more than 2,700 calls to 311 for help to quit over the course of one week – three times the number of calls during the same period in the prior year. New York City has 300,000 fewer adult smokers today than in 2002 – thanks in part to price increases – and smoking has dropped 52 percent among public high school students since 2001.
Making cigarettes more expensive is especially effective in preventing young people from starting smoking because few can afford such an expensive habit. “The increase will prevent many children from ever starting smoking,” added Dr. Frieden. “This is a powerful way to improve the health of future generations.”
New York City cigarettes became the most expensive in the nation last June, and will remain the priciest tomorrow, when the federal tax jumps from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack, pushing the total tax to $5.26 per pack.
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 such as alcohol, caffeine and other smokers.
Exercise to relieve stress, and improve your mood. Try a brisk 30-minute walk at least four days a week.
Consider using a safe nicotine alternative such as patches, lozenges or gum, which can double your chances of quitting.