Lessons Learned From the Implementation of a Time-Limited, Large-Scale Nicotine Replacement Therapy Giveaway Program in New York City

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Since 2006, the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has conducted the Nicotine Patch and Gum Program (NPGP) in collaboration with 311, NYC’s non-emergency information line. In two prior years, the program was conducted in collaboration with the New York State (NYS) Smokers’ Quitline and with community-based organizations. The NPGP is an annual, brief, population-based nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) giveaway for NYC residents, complementing the NYS Quitline’s year-round NRT distribution program. Since 2006, 168,000 smokers have enrolled, with the largest number of enrollees in 2010 (n = 40,000) and the smallest number in 2009 (n = 28,000). A 2003 program evaluation demonstrated that smokers who received NRT through the NPGP had higher quit rates than smokers who did not receive NRT; these results were replicated in 2006 and 2008. Lessons learned from implementing the NPGP include: 1) time-limited NRT interventions are important complements to year-round NRT distribution; 2) expanding NRT distribution to light smokers increases treatment reach; and 3) employing multiple enrollment mechanisms, including telephone and online options, extends program reach to diverse groups of smokers. The NPGP provides a model for other jurisdictions considering implementing time-limited, population-based NRT programs as a complementary strategy to enhance ongoing tobacco control efforts.

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