Smokers Quitline Makes Dramatic Strides in the Fight Against Smoking in New York State

Governor Pataki's Anti–Smoking Campaign Catapults Increase in Monthly Calls to State's Smokers Quitline from 273 to More Than 3,000

Albany, April 12, 2001 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H., Dr. Ph. today announced that Governor Pataki's largest–in–state–history anti–smoking campaign is already succeeding as the number of smokers calling the New York State Smokers Quitline (1–888–609–6292) has increased tenfold since the State began airing its adult smoking cessation advertising last November.

"We are doing more than ever to combat smoking and to get the message out why New Yorkers should not smoke. But not only are we sending a clear message not to smoke, we are also providing significant information and proven cessation methods to help New Yorkers stop smoking," Dr. Novello said. "Thanks to the support of Governor Pataki and the significant funding he has provided – $60.5 million – for New York's strongest ever anti–smoking campaign, we are seeing real results with the Smokers Quitline – more than 3,000 people a month are calling the Quitline looking for information on how to stop smoking,"

Dr. Novello said that the Quitline provides smokers with convenient and confidential support to stop smoking. Governor Pataki established the toll–free Quitline in January 2000. Since the Quitline opened, it has received nearly 18,000 calls.

The State's aggressive statewide media campaign includes television spots encouraging smokers to stop smoking. At the conclusion of those spots the New York State Smokers Quitline phone number appears, and the response to that, in the form of phone calls, has been tremendous with more than 15,000 calls or more than 3,000 per month being received from November 2000 to March 2001.

Last month, March 2001, more than 8,200 New Yorkers called the Quitline for help and information on how to stop smoking. That is a significant increase over the 2,733 calls or 273 calls per month that were received over the 10–month period from January 2000 to October 2000.

The first television message featured supermodel Christy Turlington whose father died of lung cancer. In the commercial Ms. Turlington proclaims that her father died because he didn't quit smoking soon enough. A second television advertisement features a grandfather who gives up smoking in honor of his granddaughter's first birthday.

Dr. Novello said, "Our statewide media campaign targeting adults and cessation is paying big dividends for New Yorkers. We are getting the message out that people should not smoke and New Yorkers are responding to that message."

The State recently began another round of anti–tobacco commercials that features three television advertisements with the focus on a husband who lost his wife at the age of 46 due to lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking.

The Smokers Quitline is also designed to assist health professionals, physicians and health care providers who can use the service as a referral for their patients' smoking cessation programs. The Quitline can also be used to enhance recommended and/or prescribed smoking cessation medications. Providers can also call the Quitline to obtain concise, up–to–date information on smoking cessation techniques and medications, or to order office materials to share with their patients, including a directory of smoking cessation programs in their communities.

The State's Quitline is based at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York and is staffed by trained information specialists who are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. During off–hours, callers may leave their name and phone number and an information specialist will return their call. Roswell Park's comprehensive tobacco research and intervention efforts are widely recognized as a reliable source of information regarding tobacco issues.

"These skilled health professionals are dedicated and committed to ensuring New Yorkers have the knowledge and assistance they need to quit smoking," said Dr. Novello.

Quitline callers can also choose to leave mailing information and have a free smoking cessation guide mailed directly to their home. The Quitline also offers a taped message library that provides information about stopping smoking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All of the Quitline's services and materials are free of charge and are available in English and Spanish.

In support of the state's anti–tobacco initiative, New York's Medicaid program covers prescription and non–prescription (OTC) smoking cessation products. These include nicotine patches, inhalers, gum and nasal spray.

Under the Governor's leadership, the State has undertaken a comprehensive, $60.5 million statewide anti–smoking and tobacco control effort, which includes:

  • Support for school–based tobacco prevention programs;
  • Creation of the largest anti–tobacco advertising program in State history;
  • Promotion of smoking cessation services;
  • Support of the statewide tobacco Quitline;
  • Advertising aimed at adult smoking cessation;
  • Advertising to highlight the dangers of secondary smoke; and
  • Coverage of prescribed and over–the–counter smoking cessation products.

4/12/01–33 OPA