BOSTON (CBS) – Graphic anti-smoking ads have been airing for a little over a month now, and we’ve discovered they are working. The ads are powerful and often disturbing, showing real people with serious, smoking related illnesses. They may be difficult to watch, but new numbers show, they’re encouraging smokers to get help.

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One of the ads shows a man who breathes through a hole in his neck saying, “When you have a hole in your neck, don’t face the shower head.” Since the spots started airing about five weeks ago, the Mass. Quitline has been ringing off the hook. The controversial spots are hitting some smokers close to home. “It encourages smokers to make one more quit attempt,” says Dr. Lois Keithly, the Director of the Mass. Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program. She says in Massachusetts the number of calls from smokers looking for help quitting is up 26% since the advertising campaign began.

Counselors are helping smokers become non-smokers. “They’re also capable of helping each smoker come up with their own quit plan, setting a quit date and understanding some of the things they might do to prepare themselves for this quit attempt. They also know the local resources,” says Keithly.

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Nationally the results are even better. Calls to the quitline run by the Centers for Disease Control have more than doubled, and activity on the agency’s stop smoking website has tripled. Some smokers are heeding the call. “When I see the ads it makes me want to quit. So maybe they work a little,” one woman told us. “The impact of the ad kind of scares the heck out of you, so it’s not something you’d want to continue to do,” says another smoker.

Callers to the state Quitline not only receive help and advice on the spot, counselors will also follow up in the days ahead.

Here’s another interesting statistic. No more than three months after you stop smoking, your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lung function starts to improve.

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Mass. Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)