Updated 09/04/2012 07:38 PM
Health Department Releases More Graphic Anti-Smoking TV Ads
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The city Department of Health has released new TV ads with graphic imagery meant to kick off a city-sponsored nicotine gum and patch giveaway.
Michele Bonan, a regional director from the American Cancer Society says the ads, one of which shows a man coughing up blood, are hard-hitting, powerful and effective.
She says research shows these ads help prevent kids from starting to smoke and drive adults to quitting hotlines.
"Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the country. Thirty percent of cancer deaths are caused by tobacco use, and so it's absolutely critical that we continue to reduce smoking rates," said Bonan.
The director said smoking rates have declined since ads like these began airing.
About 46,000 Staten Islanders smoke, just over 13 percent of the borough's population.
It is no longer the highest rate of smoking in the city, as the borough runs a close second to the Bronx, but health officials would still say the island has an epidemic on its hands.
When smokers and former smokers in St. George, Staten Island were shown one of the ads, many found it to be disgusting.
"I saw him vomiting blood. Pretty horrible. So the cigarettes I have in my purse, I should throw out. What do I think of this video? I think it's an awakening," said smoker Donna Toti.
"People see commercials like that, so I don't understand why would they still do it," said former smoker Joshua Harington.
"I mean, they show the truth, what they do to your body. You're killing your body," said smoker Reyes Diaz.
These anti-smoking ads have run since 2006, featuring photographic evidence of the damage caused by smoking -- cancer, lost limbs and lost voice boxes. Anti-smoking advocates say they ARE working.
"Calls to the smokers' quit line have doubled and hits to the smokers' quit line website have tripled while the campaigns are running," said Julian Kaplan of the Staten Island Smoke-Free Partnership. "That's a pretty big difference, and what it tells us is that something is triggering in the minds of smokers to make them want to take that next step."
The ads will run for the next several weeks. New Yorkers who want information on how to get a free patch and nicotine gum can call 311.