Schweiker Administration Launches New Ad Campaign to Help Pennsylvania Smokers Kick Habit
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- On behalf of Gov. Mark Schweiker, Pennsylvania Physician General Rob Muscalus today announced a new Department of Health television and radio advertising campaign to help Pennsylvania smokers quit using tobacco. Th
"Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in Pennsylvania," Dr. Muscalus said. "We want to remind people that there is no better time than right now to stop smoking. Regardless of how much a person smokes or how long they've been a smoker, they need to quit -- for themselves and for their family. It's the right thing to do."
In describing the ads Dr. Muscalus said, "Research has found that smoking cigarettes triggers the same endorphins in the brain as those triggered when a person is in love. In these ads, we're comparing addicted smokers to people who are in a bad relationship -- with the premise that when it comes time to quit -- be it a bad relationship or cigarettes -- breaking the emotional ties is very difficult."
The three-part television campaign is titled "Smoke Opera" and begins airing statewide today. A radio ad also will air to complement the television series.
According to studies conducted by the Comprehensive Center for Tobacco Research and Treatment, it takes the average cigarette smoker about seven attempts at quitting before successfully breaking the habit. "Smoke Opera" explores this "break-up" through a series of dramatic scopes into the lives of Cindy (the smoker) and Vince (the cigarette).
The first spot introduces Cindy and Vince. Cindy is a confident, strong woman in her 30s who is obviously struggling to detach herself from a very harmful part of her life, while Vince is a controlling, self-centered, egotistical character. A few seconds into the spot, viewers see that Vince is in fact a cigarette. The spot shows the couple in a restaurant as Vince mocks Cindy's desire to "call it quits," yet again. "You need me!" Vince screams to Cindy.
The second spot shows Cindy in her apartment stuffing clothing into a suitcase and getting ready to leave Vince. "How long will it be this time?"
Finally, the third spot focuses on the little things that trigger smokers to want to rekindle their bad relationship with a cigarette. Vince is shown following Cindy in everyday places, such as outside of work or in her car. In the closing scene we see Cindy running on a treadmill getting into shape, and Vince's failed attempts to keep up with her. She has finally detached herself. A voiceover closes each spot with tagline: "Need help getting out of a bad relationship?" Pennsylvania's free quitline then appears on the screen -- 1-877-724-1090.
Pennsylvania's quitline provides service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling the toll-free number, tobacco users receive counseling from highly trained intake specialists and cessation counselors. After that initial call to the quitline, callers will receive five scheduled follow-up calls. And, if there are those who are not ready to quit, materials such as a self-help quit guide and tailored fact sheets along with local cessation- service listings will be provided to them. The cessation counselors also will be able to provide callers with information on cessation coverage by Pennsylvania health-insurance plans and Medical Assistance. The national American Cancer Society will operate the quitline for the Department of Health.
Dr. Muscalus said, "Our free tobacco quitline is a resource that Pennsylvanians can use to help overcome their addiction. We want to give Pennsylvanians who smoke or use chewing tobacco the helping hand they may need to end their life-threatening habit. We want to save lives. We want to make Pennsylvanians healthier."
The Health Department also is promoting the quitline through a series of outdoor advertising in the Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. "I want to thank Gov. Schweiker and his administration for their continued commitment to raise awareness about the issue of tobacco use," Dr. Muscalus said.
Recently, Gov. Schweiker announced that there has been a significant drop in the number of stores and vending-machine locations selling tobacco products illegally to Pennsylvania's kids. The results are from random, unannounced inspections of Pennsylvania retailers conducted this summer by the state Department of Health. This year's inspections show a reduction in the percent of tobacco products illegally sold to minors from 27.9 percent last to 14.5 percent this summer -- a remarkable improvement.
Earlier this year, Gov. Schweiker kicked off a highly acclaimed advertising campaign that reminded Pennsylvanians that it is illegal to sell tobacco products to kids under the age of 18. The Governor also called attention to the problem of youth access to tobacco when in May he called for the General Assembly to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1, noting that studies showed that raising tobacco product prices is one of the most effective ways to not only decrease use by kids, but more importantly, to prevent them from starting a life-long addiction.
For 2001-02, the Department of Health increased the number of ongoing enforcement and compliance checks completed in Pennsylvania. The department also worked in collaboration with its primary contractors, which are community-based organizations who develop comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs in each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, to hold retailer education luncheons for over 1,000 retailers statewide.
As part of the historic tobacco settlement signed in June 1999 by then Gov. Tom Ridge, 12 percent of the settlement money -- more than $41 million for 2001-02 -- was earmarked for prevention and cessation activities designed to decrease smoking and smokeless tobacco use by teens and adults. This is a dramatic increase from the $2.2 million that was being spent in Pennsylvania and places the Commonwealth among the top five states nationally in funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation.