CDC’s Media Campaign Helps 50,000 Smokers Quit

June 15, 2012

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that its landmark national media campaign, Tips from Former Smokers, generated almost 200,000 additional calls to toll-free telephone quitlines and more than 400,000 additional visitors to www.smokefree.gov, the federal website that provides help to smokers trying to quit.

According to the CDC, the campaign is on track to meet the goal of generating at least 500,000 quit attempts and helping 50,000 smokers quit successfully. The agency estimates that helping this many smokers quit will save about $70 million annually in medical and productivity costs related to smoking.

The 12-week advertising campaign, which ended June 10, featured the real stories of former smokers who are suffering the debilitating health effects of their tobacco use.

'These initial results suggest that the campaign will help even more smokers quit than we had hoped, exceeding our already high expectations,' said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden. 'More than two thirds of all smokers want to quit. People who smoke die sooner and live sicker. This campaign is saving lives and money.'

Overall call volume to 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled during the campaign, and weekly visits to www.smokefree.gov tripled compared with levels before the campaign.

While the CDC campaign was a big step forward, it still pales in comparison to the more than $10 billion a year the tobacco companies spend to market their deadly and addictive products. The CDC campaign cost $54 million – less than what the tobacco companies spend on marketing in just two days.

The CDC campaign adds to the already powerful evidence that tobacco prevention and cessation programs, including media campaigns, work. But these campaigns must be well-funded and sustained over time.

The tobacco companies are not letting up on their efforts to addict our children and keep the customers they already have. Elected officials must be equally aggressive in supporting campaigns like this one that reduce tobacco use, which is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.