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Former Smoker Tells Of Losing Battle With Lung Cancer

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As part of its adult cessation efforts within the Hispanic community, the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) recently launcheda series of TV spots that focus on the serious physical and emotional impact of tobacco on users and their families.

The campaign features 59-year-old Gerardo Ozorio, a former smoker who quit in June 2008 after smoking for 46 years. Two months later, Ozorio was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Gerardo passed away on January 1, 2009, shortly after recording the ads. He will never know the immense impact his story will have on the Hispanic community.

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“Gerardo’s story puts a face on tobacco-related diseases and their tangible negative effects,” said David Neville, TPCP media coordinator. “The ads are incredibly powerful – we hope the Ozorio family’s story will motivate tobacco users to quit for good."

Gerardo, his wife Adolfina, and sons Gustavo and Ramón were all interviewed for the campaign. The message is that tobacco addiction impacts not only the smoker but everyone else around them, especially loved ones. As stated by Gustavo, “…nothing can prepare you in life to see your father sick this way. Nothing prepares you in life for something as horrible as cancer.”

“We’re very grateful to the Ozorio family – especially Gerardo – for sharing their story in hopes it will encourage others to quit,” Neville said.

The TRUTH campaign is part of Utah’s comprehensive and proven approach to reducing the health and financial burdens tobacco use has on communities. The TRUTH and its provide programs to: prevent youth from starting to use tobacco; help tobacco users quit; protect Utahns from secondhand smoke; and eliminate tobacco-related disparities.