To Quit Smoking, It Takes a Village

To Quit Smoking, It Takes a Village

Johnson Houses resident Patricia Young was a long-time smoker who, thanks to a quitting smoking workshop with Harlem Health Advocacy Partners, is now on the road to better health: Ms. Young stopped smoking on February 14.

Harlem Health Advocacy Partners (HHAP) provides residents of Clinton Houses, Johnson Houses, King Towers, Lehman Village, and Taft Houses with individual and group health coaching to help manage their health issues, connections to community resources, enrollment and saving on health insurance, and getting involved with community organizing.

HHAP staff members became certified to lead the American Lung Association’s (ALA) Freedom From Smoking program, which provides participants eight sessions in small groups to learn how to quit smoking. The 35-year-old program has helped thousands of Americans quit smoking, and according to the ALA’s website, program participants “are six times more likely to be smoke free one year later than those who quit on their own.”

“I was proud to be part of this initiative that offers community residents tools to quit smoking and live healthier lives,” said Carrie Sealy, HHAP Community Health Worker Supervisor. Ms. Sealy is a Castle Hill Houses resident and member of NYCHA’s Advisory Group on Smoking and Health. “The group members shared their stories and the challenges they faced while trying to improve their health. We were there to support them and give them the tools to help them quit or cut back on smoking. We were honored that they allowed us to be a part of their journey to a smoke free life-style.”  

The sessions also cover using medication to help stop smoking, making lifestyle changes, managing stress, creating a quit smoking plan, developing social support, dealing with urges, meditation, and how to stay smoke free for good.

Ms. Young, who was a smoker for 45 years, remarked on the caring and supportive environment the group provided.

“I enjoyed the group a lot. You talk about the things that trick you into smoking, your triggers and how to avoid them. It’s rough to quit smoking, I’m going to be honest. But with the techniques they told us to do, it helps. I sit down and breathe, I take time for myself. This program is really helping me. My doctors love it, my family is so happy for me and everyone’s rooting for me.”

Although the workshop ended on March 24, many of the participants have created a buddy system with their fellow members to keep supporting each other outside of the program.

“As part of Smoke-Free NYCHA we are excited to be working with wonderful partners such as HHAP to connect residents to resources that help them quit smoking and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke,” Andrea Mata, NYCHA’s Director of Health Initiatives, said. “This is a critical component to our work to create healthier homes for residents and healthier working environments for employees.”

HHAP plans to hold future smoking cessation groups. NYCHA residents citywide can call the HHAP Hotline at 646-682-3400 to learn more about the program. Residents may also find more resources for help quitting smoking by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or 311 or by visiting

Walking the Smoke-Free Talk
From January through March 2018:
  • NYCHA organized 22 Smoke-Free NYCHA "Community Conversations" with residents from 103 developments.
  • In a partnership with the Department of Health, Green City Force's AmeriCorps team talked about Smoke-Free NYCHA with more than 2,000 residents individually.
  • NYCHA shared Smoke-Free NYCHA educational materials with over 3,000 seniors


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