Tennessee, CDC Increase Visibility of Tobacco QuitLine
NASHVILLE – Measuring ten feet tall and 20 feet wide, it will be hard for Tennesseans to miss seeing new billboards across the state that promote the toll-free Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine. While the size is impressive, the graphic message is even more so. It features a young mother cuddling an infant while holding a burning cigarette; the accompanying text reads: “Jenny smokes two packs a day. So does her mom.”
“Despite the significant progress we’ve made in recent years in reducing tobacco exposure and usage, there are still too many who are harming their health and the health of others by smoking,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We know messaging like these billboards is motivating and impacts the way some think about their own tobacco addiction and how it can also hurt those they love, resulting in quit attempts and calls to the toll-free hotline to seek help.”
The billboards, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are located in eight Tennessee cities: Morristown, Columbia, Cookeville, Clarksville, Dyersburg, Lexington, Johnson City and Cleveland. The locations were selected based on regional considerations and proximity to key populations.
“A large college or university is near many of the locations and a military base near another,” said Melissa Blair, TDH Family Health & Wellness deputy director. “Young people are key targets for the tobacco industry, which spends more than $22 million every day promoting its products. While the billboards target those 18 to 54 years of age, we know many people start smoking in their teens. The image of a young mother holding a baby and a lit cigarette is a dramatic contradiction of what a loving parent should do, and we hope the image and message aren’t just thought provoking, but disturbing.”
Since the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine became operational in 2006, more than 60,000 people have called to find help in ending their addiction to tobacco. The toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, is staffed seven days a week by trained professionals who can provide direction and resources to help tobacco users end their addiction to all types of tobacco products.
“As a medical doctor, I know the terrible toll smoking takes on the human body, whether that’s the person who smokes or others who inhale their second-hand smoke,” Dreyzehner said. “Please, if you smoke, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get help.”
To learn more about the free Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine counseling service, visit http://health.state.tn.us/tobaccoquitline.htm.
For additional online advice and assistance, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.