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“There Is No Safe Cigarette,” New TV Ads Say

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The tobacco industry’s court-ordered television ads have begun airing. They are short and to the point:

“All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and premature death – lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.”

Eleven years after appeals by the tobacco industry, the American Cancer Society’s Cliff Douglas said it is “a pretty significant moment,” in which the industry has to “fess up and tell the whole truth.”

Lorraine Reitzel, chair of the Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston College of Education, says the ads come at a good time.

“We’re lucky because we absolutely know how to quit. We have the tools,” said Reitzel, who said that the best strategy to quit is a combination of methods. “Pairing medications with advice about quitting will increase the likelihood of a successful quit attempt by 50 percent,” she said.

Reitzel’s research focuses on the disparity of cancer mortality rates in African-American and Hispanic populations, which are disproportionately affected. African-American men and women have the highest overall cancer death rates, and African-American men have the highest rate of cancer. Among Hispanics, cancer is the leading cause of death. Data from 2013 has shown that African-Americans in the Houston metropolitan area were 14 percent more likely to die from cancer than whites.

Despite the renewed focus from the television commercials, Reitzel says she doesn’t expect quitting to be easy.

“Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, but quitting is possible with a little help and persistence,” she said. “Quitting smoking is possible if you know how and is the best health decision a smoker can make.”

Reitzel is available for interviews Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon central time. To talk with her, contact Laurie Fickman at 713-743-8454 or The University of Houston offers live high definition broadcast interviews through our ReadyCam broadcast studio. Located on campus, the digital studio can connect UH experts with networks 24/7.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 45,000 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

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