CDC Boosts Fight Against Tobacco with New Round of Anti-Smoking Ads

Statement of Matthew L. Myers , President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jun. 24 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that, starting July 7, it will launch a new round of ads in its hard-hitting Tips from Former Smokers (Tips) campaign that has proven very effective at helping smokers quit.

We applaud the CDC for continuing this powerful campaign into a third year and for recognizing that winning the fight against tobacco requires a sustained commitment. These ads represent the kind of bold action needed to accelerate progress and ultimately end the tobacco epidemic for good.

The need for and effectiveness of such media campaigns was affirmed by the new Surgeon General’s report on tobacco and health released in January.  Among its key recommendations, the report called for “counteracting industry marketing by sustaining high-impact national media campaigns like the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign and the FDA’s youth prevention campaigns at a high-frequency level and exposure for 12 months a year for a decade or more.”  The CDC’s Tips campaign and the FDA’s media campaign launched earlier this year are a strong start toward that level of commitment, but they must be continued and expanded.

These campaigns are a necessary counter to the $8.8 billion a year – $1 million every hour – the tobacco industry spends to market its deadly and addictive products.  In contrast to the industry’s marketing that glamorizes smoking, the CDC’s ads tell the harsh truth about how devastating and unglamorous smoking truly is. 

The new ads feature both diseases commonly associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, and health conditions not as commonly associated, including gum disease, pre-term birth and complications associated with HIV.  One powerful ad features a young woman who smoked during pregnancy and gave birth two months early.  Importantly, the ads encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips for free help in quitting.

In its first year alone, the Tips campaign spurred more than 1.6 million smokers to try to quit and helped more than 100,000 to quit for good, according to a study published in The Lancet in September 2013.

The continuing need for this campaign was underscored by the results of the 2012-2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey released today by the CDC. While the U.S. has made enormous progress in reducing smoking, 18 percent of adults still smoke cigarettes every day or some days and 21.3 percent use some form of tobacco. This means about one in five U.S. adults – 50 million people – used a tobacco product every day or some days, the vast majority of them smoking cigarettes.

The survey is another reminder that the nation’s battle against tobacco use is far from over and must remain a national priority. Tobacco is still the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing 480,000 Americans and costing at least $289 billion in health care bills and economic losses each year. Media campaigns like Tips from Former Smokers are a key element of the overall effort to eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco.

Background: Evidence that Media Campaigns Work

Substantial scientific evidence shows that mass media campaigns reduce the number of children who start smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit, saving lives and health care dollars. Public health authorities including the Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine and the CDC have all examined the evidence and concluded that these campaigns work.

Research indicates the most effective anti-smoking media campaigns evoke strong emotions and realistically depict the devastating health consequences of smoking, just as the CDC ads do.

For more information, see our fact sheet: Public Education Campaigns Reduce Tobacco Use.

The Tips from Former Smokers ads can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/tips

 

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