Quitline calls up after anti-smoking ads

April 3, 2012 at 12:56 AM

ATLANTA, April 3 (UPI) -- Calls to the U.S. government smoking quitline hit a record high two weeks after graphic TV and radio smoking cessation ads began airing, officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month initiated its Tips from Former Smokers campaign -- stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities -- and since the campaign started, the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline calls have more than doubled, officials said.

The media campaign features former smokers describing how to get dressed when you have a stoma -- a surgical opening in the neck -- or artificial limbs, what scars from heart surgery look like and reasons why people have quit smoking.

The ads end with 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access smoking cessation support across the country, or the www.smokefree.gov Web site, which provides free quitting information. A three-fold increase in total visits to the Web site was observed in the first week of the campaign, officials said.

"Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking," CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a statement. "For every one person who dies from tobacco, 20 are disabled or disfigured or have a disease that is unpleasant, painful, expensive. There is sound evidence that supports these ads -- and, based on the increase in calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, we're on our way to helping more smokers quit."

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