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"Tips from Former Smokers," a series of ads was launched today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ads, funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, feature compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. Beginning Monday, ads will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.
"This campaign is saving lives and saving dollars by giving people the facts about smoking in an easy-to-understand way that encourages quitting," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. This campaign is effective.
The messages in these new ads are emotional, telling the story of how real people’s lives were changed forever due to their smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. The ads feature smoking-related health conditions— including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, more severe adult asthma, and complications from diabetes, such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputation—and candidly describe the losses from smoking and the gains from quitting. The ads encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view the personal stories from the campaign and for free help quitting.
"Smoking and secondhand smoke kill – and they also harm smokers and non-smokers. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign shows the painful effects of smoking through former smokers, in a way that numbers alone cannot," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "These are the kinds of ads that smokers tell us help motivate them to quit, saving lives and money."
The new ads feature Tiffany, who lost her mother when she was 16 to lung cancer, and recently quit smoking herself as her own daughter turned 16 because she did not want her daughter to suffer the way she did; Bill, a 40-year-old with diabetes whose smoking led to heart surgery, blindness in one eye, amputation, and kidney failure; Michael, who suffers from COPD, and is agonizing about how to tell his grandson he may not be around to share his life much longer; as well as Nathan, who suffered severe lung damage from secondhand smoke exposure at work. And, a new ad featuring Terrie, who appeared in last year’s ads showing what a head and neck cancer survivor has to do to "get ready for the day," and who wishes she had recorded her voice before she had to have her voice-box removed, since her grandson has never heard any voice but her current one.
Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States still smoke. Almost 90 percent of smokers started before they were 18, and many of them experience life-changing health effects at a relatively early age. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. A "tip" from Bill, the ad participant with diabetes: "Make a list. Put the people you love at the top. Put down your eyes, your legs, your kidneys, and your heart. Now cross off all the things you’re OK with losing because you’d rather smoke."
The ads that ran last year had immediate and strong impact. Compared with the same 12-week period in 2011, overall call volume to 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled during the Tips campaign, and visits to the campaign website for quit help increased by more than five times.
More than 440,000 Americans each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one death 20 more continue living with one or more serious illnesses from smoking. Nearly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit. This education campaign provides motivation, information, and quit help to those who want it.
For more information on the campaign, including profiles of the former smokers, links to the ads, and free quit help.