News Release

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Campaign, Featuring Smokers’ Personal Stories, Encourages Tobacco Users to “Be a Quitter”

Smokers and tobacco users trying to quit will soon have a potent ally — fellow smokers. The “Quit Now” Challenge a new initiative featuring the inspirational stories of people who want to quit smoking, was announced today by The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Now through October 27, 2006, 1-800-QUIT-NOW will accept submissions from cigarette smokers and other tobacco users explaining, in their own words, why they want to “Quit Now!” Interested participants can visit for specific instructions on how to submit video entries. Successful quitters whose stories are chosen will be announced on February 1, 2007.

The “Quit Now” Challenge, part of the “Be A Quitter” campaign, enhances NCI and CDC’s ongoing National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines initiative. Participants — chosen among men and women between 18 and 29 years old — will be available for local television, radio, and newspaper interviews. These participants also will be encouraged to help others quit by posting daily diaries and sharing their personal stories of QUIT-NOW experiences on the official 1-800-QUIT-NOW Web site, Callers to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which is a single point of access to state-based quitlines, will continue to receive practical, effective help quitting smoking, information materials, and referrals to other resources.

“Since 1-800-QUIT-NOW was launched in 2004, it has remained an important resource for the 45 million Americans who smoke, and for other tobacco users, to help them end their addiction,” said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. “Such a program is vital to help improve the public health of this country, as young people continue to light up, and others continue to die from tobacco-related disease.”

“NIH is committed to improving the health of all Americans and reducing the burden of illness,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. “Encouraging people to quit smoking, and supporting them in their effort to do so, is an important step in preventing the myriad of diseases caused by smoking and tobacco use.”

“As a research institution, NCI is coordinating a wide-ranging program to study the mechanisms and molecular pathways of lung cancer — and the relationship of these pathways to nicotine and known carcinogens present in tobacco,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D. “Knowing, as we do, that tobacco use accounts for 30 percent of all cancer deaths, helping people quit is key to reducing the burden of this disease.”

Participants who quit smoking by The Challenge’s end will be selected to share their success stories. The NCI and CDC hope that these stories will help further increase quit rates in the United States. The North American Quitline Consortium, corporate partners, and local organizations in communities across the country are key collaborators in 1-800-QUIT-NOW, providing their expertise to help raise awareness about this toll-free access number.

In addition to The “Quit Now” Challenge, television and radio public service announcements, an online educational video, print materials, banner ads, and a Web site ( are part of the tobacco cessation campaign effort.

“Quitting tobacco is not something anyone should have to face alone,” said Corinne Husten, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “It’s like a journey, filled with ups and downs. But with the proper coaching and support, people can quit.”

For additional information about tobacco cessation, please go to or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. For more information about tobacco, please go to the National Cancer Institute’s “Tobacco and Cancer” home page at or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS) home page at

For information about cancer, please visit the National Cancer Institute Web site at, or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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