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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Department of Health Introduces Hard-Hitting Smoking Cessation Ads

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The New York State Department of Health will begin airing a statewide television advertising campaign on Aug. 3 that is sure to make New Yorkers pay attention. In fact, many New Yorkers will not like the TV spots.

“These commercials are designed to motivate smokers to quit,” Commissioner Daines said at the unveiling of the new ads at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, the location of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline. “Some viewers may complain the ads are too graphic or emotional, but research shows strong images and messages are necessary to get smokers’ attention.”

The campaign includes two ads – Separation and Artery – and they will each run statewide in August and September. The campaign is funded by a $1.8 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant (the grant also will enable the DOH to run ads in August and September of 2011). The 30-second spots are intended to drive smokers to call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).

The Quitline is a free resource that’s available to all NYS residents. The Quitline offers a range of services that are tailored to the caller’s schedule and needs, including:

  • Free starter kit of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges for eligible NYS smokers.
  • Trained Quitline specialists offering help with quit plans.
  • Information about local stop smoking programs.
  • Motivational taped messages.
  • Online support and information (

“Most people will try to quit smoking “cold turkey”, which is the least successful approach. Quitting smoking is a monumental task but we see much higher success rates when smokers ask for help.” said Richard, Rubin, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Seton Health in Troy, NY. “The Quitline is a tremendous resource for our patients and when coupled with asking a healthcare provider for help with quitting, their chances of quitting successfully increase even more.”

“Seventy-five percent of the 2.7 million smokers in New York say they are interested in stopping smoking,” said K. Michael Cummings Ph.D., MPH, Director, New York State Smokers’ Quitline Chair, Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “The Quitline is here to help them do exactly that.”

Before the Quitline can do its part, however, New Yorkers need to be made aware of its availability. That’s where the Separation and Artery ads come in. Both ads were pretested with New York smokers, at least 70 percent of whom indicated that the ads grabbed their attention. More than half said the ads made them think about quitting smoking.

“High-sensation ads such as these – ads that are intense, graphic and emotionally arousing – stick with viewers and motivate them to take action,” said Maansi Bansal-Travers, Ph.D., a researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Bansal-Travers tests print and television ads, using Web surveys, focus groups, and eye-tracking methodology.

Separation depicts the personal and emotional impact that smoking-caused illnesses have on the lives of smokers' families, particularly their children. This ad targets parents who smoke, encouraging them to consider the potential impact of their death on their children.

Artery features fatty deposits being squeezed by a surgeon’s gloved hand from a human aorta. This ad shows smokers the kind of damage cigarette smoking is doing to their bodies. It takes the risk of smoking from an abstract concept to a chilling reality.

With that in mind, and with an understanding that viewers will likely be paying close attention, each ad ends with Quitline contact information.

New Yorkers can call the Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487). Call hours are: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. During the hours that the Quitline is closed there are taped messages offering support and help for quitting smoking. The Smokers’ Quitsite ( is available twenty-four hours a day. This Web site offers tips for quitting, daily tips and free nicotine replacement therapy to eligible New Yorkers.

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