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Reality TV quit smoking campaign

July 3, 2006

Reality TV quit smoking campaign will capture the imagination – O'Connor

Using a reality TV campaign to help people quit smoking is an inspired move, Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Mr O'Connor launched The Quit Group’s Video Diaries campaign today in Wellington. It is New Zealand's latest weapon in the war on tobacco.

The first of a series of adverts, which are filmed in documentary style and unscripted, will screen on television in July and will follow a 30-year-old Maori woman as she struggles to become a non-smoker, Mr O'Connor said.

"Natasha (Tash) Tawhara has smoked up to 15 cigarettes a day and wants to kick the habit that takes her money and affects her health.

"In the diaries, viewers will see how she grapples with her addiction. It is powerful viewing, made more so by the fact that it is real."

Her story is to be followed next January by 39-year-old Stuart Sutherland, who smoked up to 45 cigarettes a day. Stuart’s father, who was a smoker, died at 52 years of age.

The adverts are likely to increase the numbers of smokers wanting to quit and further increase the number of calls to the Quitline, Mr O'Connor said.

“There is evidence showing mass media campaigns are one of the most effective ways of getting people who smoke to quit.”

The new campaign is aimed at the whole population but it has a particular focus on Mâori, Mr O'Connor said.

"Mâori make up about 20 per cent of callers to the Quitline and the organisation’s goal is to contribute to the work of reducing the number of Mâori who smoke.

ENDS

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