Be Free: Lending Smokers A Helping Hand

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida campaign is lending a helping hand to the 28,000 Floridians who smoke to quit -- for good. Free cessation aids are available from the Florida Quitline (1-877-U-CAN-NOW) in the form of counseling and nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as patches, gum and lozenges. An ad campaign blanketing the state is promoting these resources in an attempt to positively influence tobacco users to permanently alter their behavior.

The new "Be Free" campaign message is about empowering tobacco users to break the cycle of addiction. Statewide ads targeting adult and pregnant smokers will reach millions on television, radio and in movie theatres and provide resources for support and words of encouragement like "be healthier," "be wealthier" (pack-a-day smokers can save approximately $1,500 a year by quitting) and "be strong."

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According to Kim Berfield, Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, the campaign is recognizing that tobacco dependency is an addiction and providing tobacco users with tools for empowerment, which are necessary for long-term success. She also emphasizes the importance of appealing to smokers on an emotional level.

"Quitting is not easy and requires courage and difficult action; it is a daily struggle which requires compassion from a smoker's family, friends and community. People do not view themselves as statistics, therefore it is important for the campaign's message to have an emotional appeal and to provide tools and resources that provide self-empowerment," Berfield said.

Another way the campaign is reaching smokers is through its newly launched website www.floridaquitline.com which features a Quitline introduction video showing callers what they will experience during the quitting process. The site also allows users to schedule a Quitline call and recommend the cessation service to their friends or family. The main campaign site, www.tobaccofreeflorida.com, will be updated to include video journals that follow a diverse group of tobacco users throughout their quest to stop using tobacco, a smoking cost calculator, which determines the amount a tobacco user can save if they quit and provide positive alternatives to spend money on (i.e., gym membership), and Myth Mashers, a tool that dispels common misconceptions which may lessen a tobacco users desire to quit.

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