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Jun 05, 2013

Novel Ads Encourage Smokers to Ask Their Doctors About Quitting

A new national campaign aiming to curb smoking rates features real stories from former smokers.

In the past, anti-smoking ads often listed shocking statistics about the harmful effects of smoking in hope that viewers would understand the dangers of smoking and either quit or never take up the habit. For example, ads would cite the fact that tobacco causes more than 5 million deaths per year worldwide, or how on average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Historically, these campaigns were successful in helping curb smoking rates, but we have more ground to cover before we eliminate the most preventable cause of death in the United States. And that’s where the Office on Smoking and Health’s national media campaign comes in.

You may have already noticed new anti-smoking ads on the TV or radio featuring real stories from former smokers about how tobacco use has affected their lives and their families. These ads are designed to be more relatable for viewers and help educate them on the serious impacts of smoking, both for health and other things that we may take for granted. For example, one television commercial features a former smoker with diabetes, who lost a leg as a result of complications from his condition. Although the ad may be sad and shocking to some viewers, it helps get the message across. Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, yet few realize that smoking can worsen their condition and result in dangerous health complications. By showing first-hand accounts from former smokers, we can better understand their personal story and learn from their experience.

And starting May 27, these messages began to include a new call to action: talk with your doctor. Each message now ends with, “You can quit. Talk with your doctor for help,” providing  smokers with an easy, first step to quitting. The hope is that after viewing ads from the new campaign, smokers will better understand their vulnerability to the effects of smoking and take that first step toward quitting by calling their doctor. There’s a wealth of resources that help make quitting easier for smokers, and doctors are eager to share these tools with patients. More than half of all Americans who ever smoked have now successfully quit, and it’s possible for smokers to succeed in quitting—especially with help from their doctor or the 1-800-QUIT-NOW line.  

So keep an eye out for the new anti-smoking campaign ads over the next month and share them with others. The benefits of quitting smoking are endless and hopefully, after this new campaign, more people will kick the habit and avoid becoming a statistic. 

The Cost of Lighting Up

(Click to view infographic)

Questions for You to Consider

  • Why does smoking increase risk for heart disease?

  • Smoking causes plaque build up in the arteries, which reduces the flow of blood to the heart and body, increasing blood pressure. Over time, this can put an extreme strain on the heart and other parts of the body.
  • How should I prepare for "quit day?"

  • Getting ready to quit smoking is just as important as the actual "quit day." Here are some steps you can take:

    • Talk to your doctor not only about stop-smoking medications, but also about how quitting smoking may affect other medications you’re taking.
    • Arrange for a support system to help you at home, at work and in your social life.
    • Keep a record of when you smoke and why. This will help you identify triggers to smoking. Once you know your triggers, you can plan how to cope with them without smoking.

    Make quit day a big deal by starting fresh in lots of ways:

    • Throw away all of your cigarettes. Check all of your hiding places to make sure you get rid of every last one.
    • Get rid of your ashtrays.
    • Clean your house and wash your clothes to remove the cigarette smell.
    • Cut down on your caffeine intake starting several days before quit day. Nicotine makes your body metabolize caffeine more quickly. Once you stop smoking, you’ll feel jittery and nervous if you keep drinking the same amount of caffeine.
    • Drink lots of water.
    • Get some exercise. You’ll feel better and it will keep your mind off smoking.

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