Commissioner Novello Announces New Anti-Smoking Billboards

New Billboards to be Displayed Statewide as Part of Governor Pataki's Aggressive $60 Million Anti–Smoking Campaign

Albany, November 8, 2001 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today announced that the State began displaying new anti–smoking billboards statewide last month, as part of the Governor's aggressive $60 million anti–smoking campaign to encourage New Yorkers to quit smoking.

"I must commend the Governor for his support of the State's anti–smoking campaign. Today, because of his leadership we continue to mount the State's most aggressive anti–smoking campaign in history by posting five new billboards. These new boards will enable us to continue to hammer home the message that smoking kills. The five billboards will also get the message out second hand smoke can cause serious health problems, such as asthma and other respiratory difficulties in children as well as adults," Dr. Novello said.

"The State's multi–faceted anti–smoking campaign – including billboards, youth empowerment and enforcement initiatives, a statewide media campaign, cessation programs, school–based programs and a smokers' quitline – continues to build on the State's success to reduce the incidence of smoking in New York."

The five new anti–smoking billboards are in the process of being displayed across the State and are varied in their message content. One billboard depicts a graveyard with the message, "430,000 People Die A Year From Smoking" and a second caption, "It's time we made smoking history." A second board shows a man trapped in a snake–like coiled cigarette with the question, "Ready to Quit?" This billboard will have a tag line with the State's smokers' quitline telephone number posted (1–888–609–6292).

Three of the new billboards are aimed at increasing public awareness to the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke or second–hand smoke. A strong message is portrayed on one billboard, "When You Smoke There's No Escape For Your Family" accompanied by a picture of a toddler peering through her crib.

Two other billboards deliver similar messages to the public, one showing a young boy holding his breath with the caption, "Sure, You Can Smoke Around Me. I'll Just Quit Breathing" and another displaying a man with a cigarette in his mouth asking an on–looking woman, "Mind If I Smoke?" – the woman's reply, "Care If I Die?"

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion an estimated 3,000 nonsmokers nationwide die annually from lung cancer as a result of their years of exposure to ETS or second–hand smoke. The CDC estimates in a given year, nationwide that second–hand tobacco smoke is responsible for as many as 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis, in children nationwide. These statistics demonstrate the potential health risks associated with exposure to second–hand smoke, especially for children.

A recent survey of ninth grade students in Erie County conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) demonstrates that Governor Pataki's aggressive anti–smoking initiatives are working in New York State. Results of the 2000–01 survey indicate that the use of tobacco products among participating ninth grade students declined by nearly 40 percent since a similar survey in 1996. It showed that tobacco use decreased from 30 percent in 1996 to 18 percent in 2000–01. The latest survey included 5,782 students, representing 48 percent of ninth–graders attending schools in Erie County.

The newly designed anti–smoking billboards outlined today build on the Governor's efforts to significantly reduce tobacco use in New York State. Under the Governor's leadership, the State has undertaken a comprehensive, $60 million statewide anti–smoking and tobacco control effort, which includes:

  • Support for school–based tobacco prevention programs;
  • Establishment of a statewide youth empowerment initiative to address teen smoking;
  • Creation of the largest anti–tobacco advertising program in State history;
  • Promotion of smoking cessation services;
  • Support for a 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 for Medicaid eligible individuals.

Fire Safe Cigarettes:

Governor Pataki signed into law the nation's first Fire–Safe Cigarette Law. The law requires all cigarettes sold in New York to be designed in a "fire–safe" manner that will prevent continuous burning when they are not smoked for a specified period of time. The law also includes tough new enforcement provisions to help combat cigarette bootlegging.

Prohibit Sale of Look–A–Like Cigarettes:

Additionally, effective February 1, 2001, herbal cigarettes cannot be sold to people under 18 years of age. Lastly, effective October 1, 2001, bidis, a tobacco product which is attractive to young people, may only be sold to adults, and only by a tobacco business such as a tobacco specialty shop.

11/8/01–116 OPA