City pulls no punches with anti-smoking ads


Hard-hitting anti-smoking adverts, showing graphically how people suffering smoking-related illnesses suffer before they die, are broadcast from today.

The ads, produced by the city’s Department of Health, have the blunt title “Suffer Every Minute” and hammer home the stark reality of dying from a smoking-related illness.

The city’s message on diseases such as emphysema or stroke, pulls no punches: “Dying from smoking is rarely quick … and never painless. When smoking leads to emphysema or stroke you can suffer every minute of every day.”

The ads, seen in advance by Metro, are a harsh reminder of the suffering of the sick — but also of the life-changing effect caring for a dying smoker has on their loved ones.

In one ad, a woman dying from the effects of a stroke has her diaper changed by her husband.
In another a smoker with emphysema is seen gasping for breath.

Susan Kansagra, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Tobacco Control told Metro: “In our research, we find that smokers are much more afraid of suffering from smoking-related health effects than of dying from them.  We wanted to continue our hard-hitting anti-smoking education by reminding smokers that the health effects are devastating and debilitating, and impact not only the quality of life of the smoker, but of those who live with and must care for the smoker.”  

The campaign runs from today until March 24 and contains advice for smokers on the widespread help available to those wanting to quit.

A community health survey found that 960,000 adults smoke in New York City — and last year nearly 760,000 of them tried to quit.

Smoking: The disease facts

What is emphysema?

» Emphysema is part of a lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  
» Emphysema begins with the destruction of air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs where oxygen from the air is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the blood. … Damage to the air sacs is irreversible and results in permanent “holes” in the tissues of the lower lungs. As air sacs are destroyed, the lungs are able to transfer less and less oxygen to the bloodstream, causing shortness of breath.

What is stroke?

» Stroke is a cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. 
» During both types of stroke (ischemic and hemorrhagic), the brain can’t get the blood (and oxygen) it needs and can suffer serious damage. 

Does smoking put me at risk?

» Smoking is the major cause of COPD. The poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the lungs’ defense against infections, narrow air passages, cause swelling in air tubes and destroy air sacs.  
» About 80 percent of all COPD is caused by cigarette smoking.

» Cigarette smoking is an important risk factor for stroke.
» The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is about double that of nonsmokers after adjustment for other risk factors. 
» The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk (among women).

The stark truth

Metro asked Dr. Ronald Crystal, of New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center to outline the stages a patient goes through from developing emphysema — to death.

» Stage 1. Early symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as emphysema: These include breathlessness, wheezing and coughing up mucus.
» Stage 2. As COPD progresses, parts of the airways collapse making breathing more difficult, which can mimic the feeling of suffocation. This lung impairment diminishes the oxygen supply to the blood, causing the skin to become bluish in color. Parts of the lung may rupture, causing air to leak out of the lung, which produces a sharp sudden pain and shortness of breath. This condition, called pneumothorax, requires immediate intervention by a doctor.
» Stage 3. Towards the end stages of COPD, many become incapable of climbing stairs or walking short distances; they become confined to living on one floor of their home and eventually become bedbound. Weight loss becomes inevitable as the gut begins to shut down and the body focuses its energy on other organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, in effort to prolong survival.
» Stage 4. Death: End-stage patients may lose the ability to breathe on their own, becoming reliant on a ventilator until death. Death may result from respiratory failure, characterized by severe breathlessness and the feeling of drowning, heart failure, or pulmonary embolism, the clotting of blood in the arteries preventing blood flow to the lungs.

» Website:
» Phone number: 646-962-2333 (to schedule an appointment), 646-962-2672 (for research study inquiries)


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