TV PSAs prompt huge increase in calls to CDC smoking quitline
Two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the Tips from Former Smokers campaign, calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline have more than doubled.
Call volume rose from 14,437 calls for the period Monday, March 12 – Sunday, March 18, to 33,262 calls for the period Monday, March 19 – Sunday, March 25, and a record 34,413 calls for the period Monday, March 26 – Sunday, April 1, the CDC reported. The ads were launched March 19, and will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.
Previous experience from state and local media campaigns promoting quitlines shows at least five to six smokers try to quit on their own for every one person who calls a quitline.
The campaign features compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities, and the toll smoking-related illnesses take on smokers and their loved ones. The ads focus on smoking-related lung and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, asthma, and Buerger’s disease, a rare condition affecting arm and leg arteries and veins. The campaign features suggestions from former smokers on how to get dressed when you have a stoma (a surgical opening in the neck) or artificial limbs, what scars from heart surgery look like, and reasons why people have quit. The ads are tagged with 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or the www.smokefree.gov website, which provides free quitting information. A three-fold increase in total visits to the website was observed in the first week of the campaign.
“Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “For every one person who dies from tobacco, twenty are disabled or disfigured or have a disease that is unpleasant, painful, expensive. There is sound evidence that supports these ads – and, based on the increase in calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, we’re on our way to helping more smokers quit.”
The Tips from Former Smokers campaign is another bold step in the Obama administration’s commitment to prevent young people from starting to use tobacco and helping those that smoke quit. Recent milestones include the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, including, to prevent use by minors. Additional support to help smokers quit is provided through state toll-free quit lines and implementation of web and mobile based interventions.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 443,000 Americans each year. Cigarette smoking costs the nation $96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity each year. More than 8 million Americans are living with a smoking-related disease, and every day more than 1,000 youth under 18 become daily smokers. Still, nearly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit, and half make a serious quit attempt each year. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign will provide motivation, information, and resources to help.