State Health Department, Smokers’ Quitline Launch Hard-Hitting Campaign

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BUFFALO, NY — Two new hard-hitting anti-tobacco television ads are giving New York smokers even more reasons to quit. The ads are part of a media and public-relations campaign, sponsored by the New York State Department of Health and created by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that focuses on the dramatic reduction in risk for both heart attack and lung cancer that occurs when tobacco users become former users, breaking free from nicotine addiction.

The “Reverse Heart Attack” spot, which contains images of open-heart surgery, distraught families, and a deceased male patient on a gurney, highlights the immediate and long-term cardiovascular benefits of smoking cessation, such as lowered blood pressure and diminished risk of heart attack. The spot ends with the faint wail of an ambulance siren. A second ad, “Reverse Lung Cancer,” includes graphic images of a lung resection, chest x-rays, upset patients and a diseased lung. An announcer informs viewers that 10 years after smoking cessation, a person’s risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half, and that until a smoker stops smoking, she or he will remain at risk for illness and major diseases, including cancer.

The media campaign encourages New Yorkers to take advantage of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which is based at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). The Quitline offers Quit Coaches and nicotine patches and is available seven days a week at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487); during off hours, taped messages offer support and help for quitting smoking. The online Smokers’ Quitsite,, is available 24 hours a day and offers stop-smoking information, a free online smoke-free community, and online ordering for nicotine patches.

“We know this campaign works. When the ads go on the air, the number of calls to the Quitline goes up dramatically,” said K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, Chairman of RPCI’s Department of Health Behavior. “Plus, this campaign is already paid for; last year, New York State collected over $1 billion in tobacco taxes and spent less than half a penny of each dollar collected to promote and run the New York State Smokers’ Quitline. Encouraging smokers to stop smoking is way more cost-effective than treating someone with lung cancer; the average costs for treating lung cancer total $46,000, compared to just $30 for the services provided by the Quitline.”

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, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager