New Survey Finds One in Three Sports Fans Smoke

WASHINGTON, - A new survey conducted by the American Legacy Foundation(R) (Legacy) finds that the majority (63 percent) of
sports fans surveyed are current or former smokers and 76 percent of them have smoked while watching or attending sporting events. The study examines whether sports fans were exposed to secondhand smoke while watching sports; smoked while watching sports at certain venues; or whether those who quit smoking relapsed while watching a game. The survey also examined whether watching sports was a trigger for fans who smoke.

The survey also indicated that 60 percent of sports fans have been exposed to
secondhand smoke in the past year while watching or attending sporting events
and that 36 percent of sports fans who smoke or used to smoke are extremely or
very tempted to smoke while viewing sporting events in their own homes. When
the score of the game is close, nearly one third are extremely or very tempted
to light up.

Starting this week and through the winter, many smokers will be exposed to new
quit smoking messages through the EX(R) national smoking cessation campaign.
Legacy, along with the National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation (NATC),
announced today that the next round of new ads in its two-year old EX campaign
are now being featured during FOX Sports’ broadcast of Major League Baseball’s
American League Championship Series (ALCS) and World Series. The campaign’s
new ad debut includes traditional 30-second in-game commercials, as well as
new virtual home plate signage that will be seen during live action.

The placement of the ads during the ALCS and World Series is the first of
several that will appear in different sports venues through the winter,
including “Bassmasters” programming on ESPN2 and national radio programming on
Sporting News Radio. The ads are now prominently featured during ALCS games on
FOX and will run in various formats through January to encourage smokers to
visit for a free comprehensive plan to “re-learn life
without cigarettes.”

“For years, tobacco industry advertisements were prominently displayed during
sporting events, circumventing the federal ban on tobacco advertising on
television,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, Legacy’s president and CEO.
“Through EX, we hope to help fans who smoke to beat this addiction with a
free, easy-to-follow three-step plan to quit smoking.”

These new ads may also help to counter the images of players who use smokeless
tobacco — both snuff and chew — whom fans of professional baseball are
accustomed to seeing. Eight million Americans 12 and older use smokeless
tobacco products and annually one million more begin using them. Adolescents
who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

Released just prior to Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the Great American
Smoke Out in November, a critical time to help the 43 million Americans who
smoke to finally quit, these findings indicate a high proportion of smokers
among sports fans surveyed (34 percent). Eighty-four percent of sports fans
who are current smokers reported that they smoke cigarettes while watching or
attending sporting events.

The NATC encourages fans who smoke to use the EX quit plan, a two-year old
collaborative of state and national public health groups spearheaded by
Legacy. This is the second phase of EX advertising and promotions which are
designed to help smokers “re-learn” life without cigarettes.

EX is more than an advertising campaign. It provides evidence-based tools to
help smokers quit, including information that can help them prepare for a quit
attempt by 1) “Re-learning” their thinking on the behavioral aspects of
smoking and how different smoking triggers can be overcome with practice and
preparation; 2) “Re-learning” their knowledge of addiction and how medications
can increase their chances for quitting success; and 3) “Re-learning” their
ideas of how support from friends and family members can play a critical role
in quitting.

Because social support is so important, EX has supplemented its online
quitting plan at with a virtual community for smokers who
want to convene and collaborate on their successes and challenges in the
difficult quit process. Since March 2008, when the program first debuted, more
than a million people have visited for help re-learning
life without cigarettes. More than 14,000 smokers have joined the online
community, forming nearly 300 customized support groups. EX tools were
designed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and with input from former and
current smokers who have lived with this struggle, in order to provide smokers
with a realistic approach with evidence-based research.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most smokers in America — 70
percent — want to quit, but in 2000, only about five percent were successful
in quitting long-term. Quitting smoking is ultimately one of the single most
important lifestyle changes one can make to improve and extend their lives.
Tobacco-related disease is the leading cause of preventable death in the
United States; smokers therefore need to be armed with all the available
information to make the best, most informed choices about the smoking
cessation resources available to them.

EX(R) is a collaborative public health campaign presented by the National
Alliance for Tobacco Cessation, a partnership of the nation’s leading public
health organizations and states. The campaign helps smokers prepare to quit
and guides them to useful resources that foster successful quit attempts
including the EX plan, a free personalized quit plan available on the
campaign’s Web site EX is the culmination of several years
of research and testing, combining an understanding of the power of nicotine
addiction with messages that resonate with and motivate smokers toward
behavior change. The EX approach is peer to peer and focuses on “re-learning
life without cigarettes” by encouraging smokers to think differently about the
process of quitting. The campaign, which began airing nationwide in March
2008, includes television, radio, online AND out-of-home advertising. The EX
Web site helps smokers create their own individual plan to quit and connects
them to a virtual community of other smokers where they can share stories and
strategies about quitting. Founding members of the NATC include numerous
states and the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the
National Cancer Institute, the American Legacy Foundation, C-Change, The
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of State and Territorial
Health Officials (ASTHO) and clinical partner, the Mayo Clinic.

This survey was conducted using Opinion Research Corporation’s online CARAVAN
on October 8-9, 2009 among a sample of 1,027 adults comprising 482 men and 545
women 18 years of age and older. Completed interviews are weighted by four
variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and
accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and
older. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have
volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been
weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. Because
the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no
estimates of sampling error can be calculated. “Sports fans” were defined as
anyone who watched sporting events, including college and professional
baseball, basketball, football, hockey, NASCAR racing, golf, tennis, bowling,
and fishing on a regular basis.

SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
Julia Cartwright of American Legacy Foundation, +1-202-454-5596,
[email protected]

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