These New Ads Might Shock You - But Oklahomans Are Calling To Quit Tobacco

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a national education campaign that depicts the harsh reality of illness and damage real people suffer as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The ads show the toll smoking-related illnesses take on real people and their loved ones. Viewers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, as well as across the state, will see the ads through June.

The “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign features compelling stories of former smokers with diseases and disabilities related to smoking, including lung and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, Buerger’s disease, and asthma. Smokers who quit also pass along tips about what helped them succeed.

“Though they may be tough to watch, the ads show real people living with real, painful consequences from smoking,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “There is sound evidence that supports the use of these types of hard-hitting images and messages to encourage smokers to quit, to keep children from ever beginning to smoke, and to drastically reduce the harm caused by tobacco.”

Oklahomans are responding to the ads with calls to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. In the first two weeks of the campaign, calls to the helpline increased more than 30 percent compared to the previous two weeks before the campaign began. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the ad campaign on March 22.  Information and free help on quitting tobacco can be found by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or online at www.OKhelpline.com or www.smokefree.gov.

“Oklahoma’s helpline continues to be one of the best in the nation, and our state ranks in the top three in reaching tobacco users and successfully providing treatment to help them quit,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust, which is the primary funder of the  Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

Since the helpline began in 2003, over 200,000 Oklahomans have called it to quit smoking or using tobacco, Stradersaid.

Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States and 23.7 percent of adults in Oklahoma smoke. More than 6,200 Oklahomans each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one person who dies,another 20 live with a smoking-related illness. Still, nearly 70 percent ofsmokers in the United States say they want to quit, and half try to quit each year, according the CDC.

"It is time Oklahomans recognize the destructive impact the tobacco industry has on our state. That impact is painfully evident in lives lost, poor health, as well as a substantial negative economic burden on individuals and businesses," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

For many, the services received through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline help themhave healthier lives and families.

“I was pregnant and had quit smoking for about 7 months when my stepmother gathered the family together to tell us she had lung cancer. My stepmother started smoking when she was 14 and I started when I was in college.  Watching her suffer and then losing her life when she was only 49 made me even more committed to staying quit,” said Mary Trail, of Beggs, Okla. “The advice I would give others who want to quit is that it is OK to have help.  Whether it’s your doctor, friends and family, using the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, whatever it is that helps you quit, it’s worth it…for yourself and your family.” 

Many of the ads will be tagged with 1-800-QUIT-NOW, (1-800-784-8669 or online at www.OKhelpline.com), a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or the www.smokefree.govweb site, which provides free quitting information. For more information on Oklahoma tobacco control activities, please visit www.StopsWithMe.com  For more information on the “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign visit www.cdc.gov/quitting/tips.

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