The state-run Quitline for North Carolina smokers has had a blockbuster year thus far and currently leads the nation in call volume. So far nearly 37,000 people have called the hotline for free guidance. That's twice as many as called during the first six months of 2011.
Ann Staples with the North Carolina Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch attributes the boost to a lucky coincidence. During the first few months of this year, the state offered free nicotine replacement patches, lozenges and gum to Quitline callers, says Staples.
She didn't know at that time that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to release a major media campaign at the same time.
"That has also increased calls," says Staples.
Those CDC ads show graphic images of people with various smoking-related ailments offering sobering tips to people who smoke.