Smokers nationwide have deluged quit lines in the days since the Food and Drug Administration announced that cigarette packs must carry labels with nine new graphic photos beginning in fall 2012.
The American Lung Association has reported triple-digit jumps in the number of calls for help to some state hotlines, including one state where calls were up 200 percent.
"I think it's very fair to say the increase in calls came as a result of the announcement of the new warning labels," said Erika Sward, the association's director of national advocacy.
The FDA estimates 213,000 people will quit smoking as a result of the new emphasis on the hazards of smoking. Images — including those of a man smoking through a hole in his throat and diseased lungs — will cover each cigarette package, which also will display a toll-free number, "800-QUIT-NOW."
That number will put smokers in touch with quit lines in their states.
"What we have seen is, if you tell smokers about (the graphic labels), they are going to call the number. It's important for states to put more funds into their quit lines between now and next fall," Sward said. "The worst thing that can happen is no one is there when someone is ready to quit."
The state's Department of Public Health funds the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, "866-QUIT-YES," which provides access to registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists and counselors.
The Cook County Department of Public Health reports that children are more likely to start smoking if they have a parent who does and that most smokers report developing their habit at age 13 or 14.
The American Lung Association hopes the new labels and the quit lines will put a dent in these numbers.
"We want to see the highest number of people get the help they need to quit as result of these labels and we want kids to never start. This is one step on the way to what we know is needed to stop this terrible thing from happening," Sward said.
Source: Chicago Tribune
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