Patient Care

Powerful Television Ads Encourage New York Residents to Quit Smoking

May. 30, 2013
Stories illustrate tragic consequences of smoking; support message of World No Tobacco Day on May 31

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is airing a series of television ads that feature real people living with the effects of smoking-related diseases. The ads urge smokers to contact their doctors for assistance with quitting. More than 25,000 New Yorkers die each year from smoking-related diseases.

“These ads are sobering, but they save lives,” said Scott McIntosh, Ph.D., director of Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center (GRATCC) and associate professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. “We need ads like this to counter the roughly $1 million a day spent in New York State by the tobacco industry to encourage smoking, which can weaken the resolve of those trying to quit and encourage the next generation to start smoking.”

The messages in the ads are emotional and describe life-changing illnesses and disabilities including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, amputation and complications from diabetes.

Smokers and non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke share their stories in the ads, including the following:

  • Tiffany smoked cigarettes, even though her mother, a smoker, died of lung cancer. Tiffany finally quit smoking in 2012 when her daughter turned 16 years old, the same age that she was when her mother died.

  • Bill, a 40-year old diabetic, learned that smoking makes diabetes harder to control as he experienced blindness in one eye, suffered kidney failure and had one leg amputated.

  • Michael, a grandfather with COPD, struggled to tell his grandson he is dying.

“From doctors to pharmacists, from physician assistants to nurses, all health care providers need to play a critical role in helping tobacco users to quit,” said Thomas McInerny, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Academy, along with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have partnered with the CDC on the “Talk With Your Doctor initiative, calling for their members to ask the right questions about tobacco and secondhand smoke when seeing patients and their parents.

According to the CDC, last year’s national campaign with similar ads, greatly increased calls to quitlines around the country, demonstrating that people are trying to quit smoking after they see the ads.

The ads are funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund and are running across the country on television, radio, billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines and newspapers.

The campaign reinforces the message that is spread through World No Tobacco Day on May 31—an annual event that draws attention to the tobacco epidemic and encourages smokers to quit. In recognition of these two campaigns, the GRATCC will feature tobacco control efforts from around the world on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on the ads, including profiles of the former smokers featured in the ads, visit

For help quitting smoking, speak with your doctor or contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or