By Stephanie Sthal
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The city of Philadelphia is hoping to make the season brighter and healthier for its residence. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with the launch of an initiative to help people quit smoking.
Of the ten largest cities in the nation, Philadelphia has the highest rate of smoking adults. So the "Get Healthy Philly" campaign is offering a giveaway to help people kick the habit.
60-year-old Silas Johnson smoked for more than 40 years. But thanks to the nicotine patch he was able to quit.
"It was relatively easy. Because I had already made up my mind that I wanted to quit, so what the patch did it just really reconfirmed my determination," said Silas.
Now Philadelphia residents will have the same chance as Silas. Today the city's health commissioner, Dr. Donald Schwartz, announced the health department is giving away a free one-month supply of nicotine patches and free phone counseling to the first 5,000 Philadelphia residents who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
"We know that people who quit with help are more likely to quit for good," said Dr. Schwartz.
The Nicotine replacement patch is sold over-the-counter, and works by reducing the craving for nicotine. It's typically a three step process, gradually lowering the strength of nicotine in the patches until people can finally stop smoking.
"We'll have fewer people in the hospital, fewer people with asthma attacks, fewer people exposed to second hand smoke," said Dr. Schwartz.
At today's event, the Health Commissioner also announced Gino Canella as the winner of the Smoke Free Philly Video Contest. His Public Service Announcement features children affected by tobacco in the community urging people to quit smoking.
Silas also shared his story, and is happy free help is available for others.
"I think the campaign is great," said Silas.
Commissioner Schwartz says more than 1,700 Philadelphia quit smoking last year, as a result of this program.
Doctors say the biggest risk for nicotine patch users is an allergic reaction at the site of the patch.
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