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Hard hitting anti-smoking ads launched

1 June 2008

Hard hitting anti-smoking ads to strike chord with smokers


Adrian Pilkington and Damien O'Connor

*****


New hard-hitting television advertisements showing the devastating impact smoking has on the lives of real New Zealanders will screen from today said Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor.

The series of six documentary style advertisements feature Adrian Pilkington, a 52-year-old from Auckland, who is dying of mouth cancer caused by smoking. He has only about six months to live.

Adrian was a smoker for more than 30 years and had his entire tongue removed through surgery in March 2007 due to mouth cancer. The tongue was replaced by a flap of skin and muscle from his stomach but he has been unable to eat or drink anything since his operation. He also has a permanent tracheostomy to help him breath.

“It’s a courageous thing Adrian has done. He is passionate about making a difference and using the time he has left to help put a stop to other New Zealand families losing loved ones to smoking,” Mr O’Connor said.

“I hope his story will strike a chord with smokers and prompt them into quitting,” said Mr O’Connor.

Mr O’Connor said the aim of the ad campaign is to personalise the new graphic warnings on cigarette packets and to help prevent some of the 4,700 smoking related deaths each year.

“Tobacco control is a high priority for this Labour-led government. In this year’s Budget we committed an additional $32 million over the next four years to support renewed efforts aimed at further reducing smoking rates but there is always more to do.

“Some people may find the new campaign harrowing but the fact is that smoking causes many diseases other than just lung cancer. Research has shown most smokers are unaware of, or underestimate, the extent of the serious health consequences of smoking.

In 2004, mouth cancer killed more than 100 people and there were more than 290 new cases reported that year. More than 80 percent of cancers of the mouth, nose and throat occur in people who smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

Mr Pilkington said he regrets smoking and would hate for anyone else to go through the agony he has endured since he was first diagnosed with mouth cancer last year.

“I absolutely didn’t realise I could get mouth cancer from smoking otherwise there’s no way I would have kept smoking. If I could turn the clock back I would never have started in the first place,” Mr Pilkington said.

Mr O’Connor said: “There’s no escaping the human toll that smoking takes. Sadly, Adrian is one of many New Zealanders whose smoking will have the most serious of consequences.”

For help to quit smoking, smokers can talk to their GP, dentist or pharmacist, call the Quitline on 0800 778 778 or visit www.quit.org.nz.

ENDS

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