San Francisco (SF) - launches new anti-smoking campaign..

January 6, 2010 Starting Tuesday, January 5th posters dotting city bus shelters and intersections will urge San Francisco smokers to "make today the day" they quit the cigarette habit.

That slogan, emblazoned on a bright red and white poster, is popping up at 42 poster boards and transit sites across San Francisco, city and health officials announced this morning. The campaign to encourage residents to kick the habit is a partnership between the American Lung Association (ALA) in California, Healthy San Francisco and the city's Department of Public Health.

While the city's increasingly stringent anti-smoking laws can make cigarette holdouts feel vilified, the campaign seeks to support smokers with resources, not castigate them, according to Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of San Francisco's public health department.

"It's the New Year, it's time to make resolutions," Katz said at a news conference this morning outside City Hall. "Probably the single most important thing we can do as a community to improve our health is to stop smoking."

According to Katz, 14 percent, or one in seven adults in San Francisco are smokers. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, he said, as well as "a huge cause of disability and loss of function." Katz said San Franciscans need easy access to stop-smoking resources and information on potential treatments like nicotine patches and oral medication.

In addition to the slogan, posters include ALA's toll-free help line, (800) 586-4872. The number is staffed with specially trained nurses and respiratory therapists, according to Dr. James K. Brown, a professor at University of California, San Francisco, medical school and a pulmonary and critical care physician at San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Brown, who serves on ALA California's advocacy committee, said he hopes the new campaign "will motivate people who smoke to take the first step."

He urged anyone interested in quitting to visit their doctor to discuss various treatment options. "It takes most people several tries before they can quit for good," he said.

In addition to the well-documented connection between smoking and lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, the habit is linked to other disorders, Brown said, including reproductive issues, osteoporosis and other types of cancers.

According to Supervisor Eric Mar: Smoking impacts virtually every person in San Francisco, regardless of whether they ever light a cigarette. In 1999, the most recent figures available for the city, smoking cost San Francisco an estimated $433 million, he said. That figure comes from medical expenses at public health care facilities and other ancillary costs. That figure is likely higher today, Mar said.

Additionally, carcinogenic secondhand smoke kills 6,000 people in California each year, Mar said. He has sponsored a proposal to further tighten the city's smoking restrictions. The ordinance, proposed in December, would make smoking off limits in common areas of multi-family housing units, and "tighten up some loopholes" in current restrictions, he said.

Mar said his mother and father "both smoked like crazy" when he was growing up, and he and his brother would try to hide or break apart his mother's cigarettes.

Having fewer accessible places to smoke will discourage people from lighting up, and may encourage them to try quitting, he said. Mar praised the new campaign, saying it is important to provide smokers with access to proven means of quitting.

**Video available with first reference**
Reference: SF Launches New Anti-Smoking Campaign,, 1/6/2009; San Francisco Launches Citywide 'Make Today the Day' Quit Smoking Campaign, SOURCE: Healthy San Francisco, PR Newswire, 1/5/2010.

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