Powerful Anti-Smoking Ads Prompt Record Calls to Quit Lines

April 02, 2012

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Calls to the toll-free number that provides help to smokers trying to quit more than doubled in the first week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new anti-smoking ads, which depict former smokers coping with devastating diseases and disabilities caused by their tobacco use.

During the first week of the ad campaign, calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW totaled more than 33,000 — up from 14,500 calls the preceding week. The number of hits to www.smokefree.gov, the government’s website offering quit assistance, also surged, more than tripling from 20,000 to 66,000.  Officials said the increases represent the sharpest jumps in traffic these services have ever seen.

For every person who seeks help, many more may be trying to quit on their own.

“This means tens of thousands of people are seeing the ads and thinking of quitting and trying to quit,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director.

The CDC launched the unprecedented national media campaign, “Tips from Former Smokers,” on March 15. Substantial scientific evidence and results from numerous states show that hard-hitting 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.

Ad Week has praised the new ads as “immensely powerful and in some ways transcendent,” noting that they are effective because they focus on “the plight of average folks who are paying the price for consuming thousands of cigarettes...” 

Watch them here.

The former smokers who bravely tell their stories of disease, disfigurement and daily struggles with tobacco-caused diseases are heroes, Ad Week says. The magazine ranks the ads as “among the year's most memorable advertising, and perhaps among the best-ever work in its category.”