RPCI Department Chair: Blocking Graphic Warning Labels Blocks NYS Smokers From Getting Help to Quit

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BUFFALO, NY — The Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) issued a statement today, November 8, 2011, on the recent federal-court ruling blocking implementation of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement that U.S. tobacco companies display graphic images on cigarette packs.

The statement from Andrew Hyland, PhD, who is also Director of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, follows.

I’m concerned that this ruling is going to prevent smokers from getting help to quit smoking. The court’s decision doesn’t just prevent smokers from seeing graphic images on those labels that the FDA approved, it prevents them from seeing messaging letting them know where to go for help to quit smoking. Smokers in New York State would have seen the 1-800-Quit-Now phone number on cigarette packs that would link them to the New York State Smokers’ Quitline.

This messaging directing smokers to free resources is especially important now, as cuts to the New York State Tobacco Control Program budget have resulted in fewer public service announcements about the dangers of tobacco use, leading to a 40% drop in the number of New York smokers getting help from the Quitline since 2009. We had hoped the new warning labels with the Quitline phone number would offset the impact from the funding reductions.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that funding be restored so the Quitline can help smokers break free from their addiction when they are ready to do so. I and all my colleagues at the Quitline encourage New York smokers to call us for help quitting smoking.

Smokers can pick up the phone and dial 1-800-QUIT-NOW and get a free quit guide, a starter kit of nicotine patches or gum (most who call qualify), and support from the expert Quitline coaches. If you’d rather click than call, smokers can go to http://www.nysmokefree.com.

The New York State Smokers Quitline, located at RPCI, is open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org