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Graphic new quit smoking television commercial

11 October 2005

Graphic new quit smoking television commercial


A graphic new television commercial showing the effects of smoking on the lungs will be launched in New Zealand on Sunday 16 October.

The new Quit Group commercial shows the amount of tar deposited on an average smoker's lungs over a year. Quit Group Medical Advisor Peter Martin says over a year 150 mls of tar is deposited in the lungs of smokers who smoke 18 or 19 cigarettes each day.

In its condensed form, tar is a sticky brown substance that is the main cause of lung and throat cancer in smokers. Tar can also cause unsightly yellow-brown stains on fingers and teeth, Dr Martin says.

"The images showing the damage caused by tar to the lungs are graphic and confronting but realistic."

Dr Martin says tar absorbed by the lungs can cause lung cells to die. Cigarette smoke paralyses or destroys the fine hairs (cilia) that line the upper airways and help protect against infection, he says.

"When these fine hairs are damaged, tar can penetrate even further into your lungs, where it can do even more damage."

The main message of the new commercial is that every cigarette is doing you damage. However Dr Martin says smokers' lungs will improve if they quit smoking.

"Cilia that are paralysed (and not destroyed) can start to recover within three months and remove mucus from the lungs. Smokers who quit will see an improvement in chest and lung conditions such as asthma and chest infections."

Dr Martin says smokers who quit will find normal daily activities and exercise much easier once their lungs start to function better.

Smokers who want to quit can ring the free national Quitline on 0800 778 778 for advice, support and exchange cards for government-subsidised patches or gum.

Note: Lung Tar was adapted for a New Zealand audience with permission from the Commonwealth of Australia.


Background information

How did we measure the amount used in the advertisement?

The amount of tar depicted in the advertisement is 150mls.

This figure was reached using recent research on average cigarette consumption in Australia. From this, we estimated tar quantities based on the rated (side of the pack) levels after adjusting for the fact that these levels considerably underestimate actual consumption.
What is cigarette tar?

'Tar' describes the particulate matter which forms a component of cigarette smoke. Each particle is composed of volatile and semi-volatile organic chemicals.

In its condensate form, tar is a sticky brown substance that is the main cause of lung and throat cancer in smokers. Tar can also cause unsightly yellow-brown stains on fingers and teeth.

What about 'light' cigarettes?

Cigarette companies use words like 'light', 'extra light', 'ultra light', 'mild' and 'special mild' on the packaging of cigarettes which have been tested by machines to contain less tar and nicotine than regular brands. Many people assume that 'light' cigarettes are less harmful.

However smokers of 'light' cigarettes breathe more deeply, smoke more often and inadvertently cover up the ventilation holes in the filter with their fingers, absorbing the same amounts of dangerous chemicals from so-called 'light' cigarettes as they would from a 'regular' brand.

Every cigarette results in dangerous deposits of tar in the lungs of smokers.
Where does the tar go?

All of the tar does not remain in your lungs permanently. Some of the tar is exhaled when you breathe the smoke out, and some is coughed up. Tar that is absorbed by the lungs can cause lung cells to die. Cigarette smoke paralyses or destroys the 'cilia' - which are fine hairs that line your upper airways and help to protect against infection. When cilia are damaged, tar is able to penetrate further into your lungs, where it can do even more damage.
Immediate health effects from damage to your lungs include coughing and shortness of breath (or tightness in the chest). Damage to your lungs caused by smoking can lead to other complications such as emphysema.

What else is in cigarette smoke?

Cigarette smoke is estimated to contain over four thousand compounds, many of which are pharmacologically active, toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. There are also 43 known cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke.

ENDS


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