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Georgia Tobacco Quitline Sees Spike in Calls: National, local ads encourage smoking cessation

December 13, 2013

Originally published May 28, 2013

World Health Organization (WHO) will mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This year's theme is "ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship."

According to WHO, tobacco kills up to half of its users. Tobacco also kills nearly 6 million people each year, 600,000 of whom are nonsmokers dying from breathing secondhand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than 8 million by 2030.

On a national level, CDC's Tips from Former Smokers campaign is building public awareness of the damage caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke with its hard-hitting tobacco education campaign, geared toward motivating smokers to quit and keeping nonsmokers from starting.

In March 2013, CDC began running select Tips from Former Smokersads from the 2012 campaign, which featured former smokers sharing real stories about health consequences related to tobacco use. On April 1, CDC launched the second round of ads highlighting additional health conditions associated with smoking such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and asthma in adults. Additional population groups featured in the 2013 campaign include American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender community. The national tobacco education campaign will run through June 23.

Georgia smokers are responding positively to this year's campaign. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health's (DPH) Tobacco Use Prevention Program (TUPP), Tips 2013has contributed to a 400 percent increase in call volume to the Georgia Tobacco Quitline, on par with the increase observed after the launch of Tips 2012.

In February, the quitline received 749 calls. Of the 749 calls, 651 or 87 percent were tobacco users who enrolled in professional cessation services. In March, the call volume surged to 2,985 calls, 2,705 or 91 percent of which were tobacco users who enrolled in professional cessation services. In April, there were 2,576 calls. Of the 2,576 callers, 2,300 or 89 percent were tobacco users who enrolled in professional tobacco cessation services.

To leverage the impact of CDC's campaign, TUPP launched a radio campaign targeting adult male smokers in 11 of Georgia's 18 public health districts. The cities of Waycross, Valdosta, Morrow, Rome, Savannah, Dalton, Albany, Columbus, Augusta, Dublin, La Grange and surrounding areas have smoking prevalence rates that exceed the state and national rates of 21 percent and/or lung cancer incidence rates that exceed the state rate of 96 per 100,000.

The radio spots have three main themes: urgency to quit now, benefits of tobacco cessation with time, and social support from trusted and influential people like healthcare professionals, spouses and/or best friends. The ads will continue until Great American Smokeout in November.

The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line is a public health service funded by the Georgia Department of Public Health through the Georgia Tobacco Use Prevention Program. The quitline offers telephone and web-based counseling services in accordance with the U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. The counseling services are available at no cost to Georgia adults, pregnant and postpartum women, and teens (ages 13 to 17). Quitline coaches are trained in evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling, having assisted more than 84,000 adult Georgians since its inception in 2001. To receive free counseling, support and referral services, call 877-270-7867; 877-266-3863 (Spanish); or 877-777-6534 (hearing impaired). Quitline resources are available at http://www.livehealthygeorgia.org/quitline.shtml.

To view real stories from Tips 2013, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/