New Anti-Smoking Ads Tell Doctors Their Patients are "All Ears"

State Health Department Campaign Urges Health Care Providers to do More to Help Patients Quit

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 2, 2009) - The New York State Department of Health today released a new round of ads urging healthcare providers to make quitting a priority with their patients who smoke. "Your Patients Are Listening" features images of patients with oversized ears to dramatize smokers' receptiveness to cessation assistance from their doctor.

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said, "We want to challenge clinicians across the state to take time at every office visit to talk to their patients who smoke." Data show that when healthcare providers talk to their patients about smoking and offer assistance with quitting, long-term success can be dramatically increased.

"Studies show that many clinicians think they will alienate smokers by addressing the issue, but we have found that smokers expect doctors to ask them about smoking and are actually more satisfied with their care when offered assistance to quit," added Commissioner Daines.

"Your Patients Are Listening" is the second phase of the award-winning "Don't Be Silent About Smoking" campaign launched last year by the State Health Department's Tobacco Control Program and its 19 Cessation Centers across the state. The campaign reached nearly 4 in 10 physicians in New York State.

"Among doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who saw the campaign, 80 percent said the ads grabbed their attention and 65 percent reported the ads made them think about doing more to help their patients stop using tobacco," said Jeff Willett, Director of the state Tobacco Control Program. "Clinicians who saw the campaign were significantly more likely to ask their patients about smoking, advise them to quit, and provide medication to assist them. We expect the new ads to have an even greater impact on providers' behavior."

The ads for the $1.2 million campaign will run today in medical journals, major daily newspapers, and other publications in New York, as well as on medical websites. The campaign's website, www.TalkToYourPatients.org, offers easy-to-access information and resources to help healthcare providers assist their patients who smoke.

Campaign materials will be distributed by the state's 19 Tobacco Cessation Centers, whose staff provides free assistance, training and consultation to clinicians and healthcare organizations to improve the delivery of tobacco cessation services.

Tobacco addiction is the leading preventable cause of death in New York. Approximately 25,500 New Yorkers die every year from smoking. While most anti-smoking efforts target smokers, this campaign speaks directly to doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and physician assistants.

Two-thirds of smokers in New York State have visited a health care provider in the past year. "This presents a tremendous opportunity for doctors to intervene and give patients the help they need to quit successfully," Dr. Daines said.

In 2007, 60 percent of New York's 2.6 million smokers attempted to quit. Most smokers try to quit without effective treatment and, as a result, the majority will relapse to smoking. Evidence suggests that helping patients to overcome chronic tobacco dependence is one of the most cost-effective interventions clinicians can provide to improve their patients' health.

In 2008, the "Don't Be Silent About Smoking" campaign won the E-Healthcare Solutions award for Best Public Service Campaign as well as an American Graphic Design Award.

For additional information about quitting smoking, please visit the state Health Department website at www.nyhealth.gov or call the toll-free NYS Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-697-8487.