Department of Health Introduces Hard-Hitting Smoking Cessation Ads

WHITE PLAINS, NY (07/28/2010)(readMedia)-- The New York State Department of Health will begin airing a statewide television advertising campaign on Aug. 3 that is sure to make New Yorkers pay attention. In fact, many New Yorkers will not like the TV spots.

"These commercials are designed to motivate smokers to quit," Commissioner Daines said at the unveiling of the new ads at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, the location of the New York State Smokers' Quitline. "Some viewers may complain the ads are too graphic or emotional, but research shows strong images and messages are necessary to get smokers' attention."

The campaign includes two ads – Separation and Artery – and they will each run statewide in August and September. The campaign is funded by a $1.8 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant (the grant also will enable the DOH to run ads in August and September of 2011). The 30-second spots are intended to drive smokers to call the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).

The Quitline is a free resource that's available to all NYS residents. The Quitline offers a range of services that are tailored to the caller's schedule and needs, including:

• Free starter kit of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges for eligible NYS smokers.

• Trained Quitline specialists offering help with quit plans.

• Information about local stop smoking programs.

• Motivational taped messages.

• Online support and information (

"There are many tools available to help smokers quit their addiction. Physicians provide vital education to smokers on the importance of quitting smoking and avoiding major lung health issues," said Scott T. Santarella, President & CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "If you're interested in quitting smoking, call your physician or the Quitline today to take the first steps to becoming smokefree."

"Seventy-five percent of the 2.7 million smokers in New York say they are interested in stopping smoking," said K. Michael Cummings Ph.D., MPH, Director, New York State Smokers' Quitline Chair, Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "The Quitline is here to help them do exactly that."

Before the Quitline can do its part, however, New Yorkers need to be made aware of its availability. That's where the Separation and Artery ads come in. Both ads were pretested with New York smokers, at least 70 percent of whom indicated that the ads grabbed their attention. More than half said the ads made them think about quitting smoking.

"High-sensation ads such as these – ads that are intense, graphic and emotionally arousing – stick with viewers and motivate them to take action," said Maansi Bansal-Travers, Ph.D., a researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Bansal-Travers tests print and television ads, using Web surveys, focus groups, and eye-tracking methodology.

Separation depicts the personal and emotional impact that smoking-caused illnesses have on the lives of smokers' families, particularly their children. This ad targets parents who smoke, encouraging them to consider the potential impact of their death on their children.