Last year’s national education ad campaign, "Tips from Former Smokers," was so successful that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new series of ads along the same lines.
Funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.
The subject of one of last year’s most powerful announcements returns, with a new message. Terrie, who previously demonstrated what a head and neck cancer survivor had to do to “get ready for the day,” now expresses the wish that she’d recorded her voice before having to have her voicebox surgically removed, because her grandson will never know what her real voice sounded like.
Other emotional new 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.
"These are the kinds of ads that smokers tell us help motivate them to quit, saving lives and money," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
"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 increase in calls to quitlines after last year’s campaign shows that more people are trying to quit smoking as a result of these ads."
During last year’s ad campaign, calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled. Visits to the campaign website for quit help increased by more than five times.
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.
Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States still smoke. 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.
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."