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Former Smoker's Story Is Latest Weapon In City's Anti-Smoking Campaign

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TWC News: Former Smoker's Story Is Latest Weapon In City's Anti-Smoking Campaign
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After smoking for more than 25 years and finally kicking the habit, 58-year-old "Marie" from the Bronx is the latest face of the city's anti-smoking campaign.

The TV ad follows a series of attention-grabbing and often graphic anti-smoking commercials sponsored by the health department including one featuring a surgeon about to amputate a smoker's foot due to gangrene.

If that seems unbelievable, you should talk to "Marie,” because it happened to her.

“I'm telling you, that's basically what my foot looked like before they amputated my leg,” says Marie. “So if anybody thinks that it can't happen to you, I've had a finger that looked like that, before they had to amputate my whole finger.

Marie, using just here first name to protect her privacy, has undergone nearly 20 amputations of multiple fingers, toes, and her left leg up to her knee, all do to a serious condition she developed from smoking called Buerger's Disease.

As a testament to just how strong Marie's addiction was: despite losing parts of her body, she continued to smoke.

“I mean, who was I fooling? I was fooling myself. You know my doctors kept telling me, 'This comes from smoking.’ And I'm like, sure. But then I'm saying to myself, ÎThe damage is done,’ not realizing that's why I keep getting amputations — because I keep smoking,” says Marie.

Marie says what finally motivated her to quit was wanting to be around for her children and grandkids. She says it was the city's 311 information line, along with it's free patch giveaway that finally helped her.

Instead of simply telling smokers to quite, health officials are hoping Marie's story will motivate them to actually doing something about it.

“We've seen it time and time again when we’ve put this kind of hard-hitting ad on the air,” says Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Sarah Perl. “We've seen calls to 311 double, triple, quadruple. That's huge."

Smoke-free for about two years now, Marie says she doesn't want to think about the last time she smoked, only the message she's putting out now.

In addition to the TV spots, the ads will be featured on the radio, the internet, and in taxi cabs and subways.

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