Graphic Ad Campaign Warns Smokers of Stroke and Eye Damage from Cigarettes

TV, Radio, Internet Ads Promote Free NYS Quitline Services to Kick Addiction

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 30, 2009) – The State Department of Health today launched a $2.5 million TV, radio and internet campaign that graphically depicts the serious risk of stroke, macular degeneration and blindness that can result from smoking.

The two ads are appearing on Internet sites, and will air on TV and radio statewide through February 14 to motivate smokers to quit. The ads encourage smokers to talk with their doctor about quitting and to contact the New York State Smokers' Quitline for free help.

An ad labeled "Stroke" describes how smoking causes a build-up of fatty deposits in the artery walls and causes blood cells to stick to these walls and to each other. Viewers will see how fatty streaks and fat-filled lesions impair blood flow and reduce artery diameter, contributing to poor circulation, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

"Eye" explains the process of the eye damage, macular degeneration that can lead to blindness, caused by chemicals from tobacco smoke entering the bloodstream. The ad combines powerful imagery of the damage occurring in a smoker's eye.

Both ads, created by the Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health and Aged Care, were pre-tested with New York State smokers and found to provide strong motivation for smokers to quit smoking. Media campaigns focusing on smoking cessation programs are proven interventions that have successfully reduced the smoking rate in New York.

"Since 2005, more than half a million New Yorkers have successfully quit smoking. By quitting smoking you are taking the most important step you can for your health," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The health benefits of quitting smoking are undeniable. A smoker who quits quickly reduces his or her risk of developing smoking-related heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema and even blindness."

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in New York State and smoking-related illnesses cost the state more than $8 billion in medical costs annually. The majority of New Yorkers are non-smokers and smoking rates of adults and youth are at there lowest in the state ever, respectively at 16.8 percent and 14.7 percent in 2008. This dramatic reduction in smoking is the result of the department's comprehensive tobacco control efforts.

Today's ad campaign is an example of one of the most important components of the tobacco control program. Fortunately, after a reduction in funding through the enacted New York Deficit Reduction Plan, the department is able to continue with cessation efforts which have been very successful.

"In this time of economic constraints, the State Health Department remains committed to helping smokers quit and preventing youth from ever starting," Commissioner Daines said. "Vigorous ad campaigns have contributed to reductions in adult and youth smoking, which are both at their lowest levels on record in New York."

The campaign promotes the New York State Smokers' Quitline, 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) and web site, www.nysmokefree.com where smokers can find free coaching and tips for quitting. Most qualify for free two-week starter kits of nicotine patches or gum. Information about quitting smoking is also available on the State Health Department web site at www.nyhealth.gov.