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Former Smokers Are Back With More Tips to Save Lives

January 31, 2014

On February 3, the CDC will launch the third year of its Tips from Former Smokers advertising campaign that has already inspired more than 100,000 smokers to quit for good.

The ads feature the compelling stories of real people who have suffered from tobacco-caused diseases, including cancer, heart attacks, amputations and diabetes complications. The ads counter the $8.8 billion a year marketing barrage of the tobacco industry and tell the harsh truth about how devastating and unglamorous cigarette smoking truly is.

This year’s campaign includes two new ads featuring Terrie Hall, who participated in the previous Tips campaigns. The new ads were filmed a few days before Terrie passed away from cancer at age 53 in the fall of 2013.

The ads tell Terrie’s story: She started smoking in high school and was diagnosed with cancer at age 40, when she had her larynx removed and had to speak with an artificial voice box. She used her new voice to powerfully and memorably warn others about smoking.

According to the CDC, Terrie wanted one last opportunity to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit so they could avoid the pain and suffering she experienced.

'She essentially single-handedly talked this hospital into letting a film crew come in and film her bedside because she didn't want anyone to have to go through this,' said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health. 'She said, 'I want 15-year-olds to not start. And I want 25-year-olds to quit. Because this isn't some statistic. This is happening to real people. This is happening to me.''

The CDC’s ad campaign comes as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health and just weeks after a new Surgeon General’s report showed that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation’s health than has been previously reported.

The new Surgeon General’s report found that there is conclusive evidence that mass media campaigns like Tips work to reduce tobacco use among youth and adults. Among its key action steps to accelerate smoking declines and ultimately end the tobacco epidemic, 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 [upcoming] youth prevention campaigns at a high frequency level and exposure for 12 months a year for a decade or more.”

Because of Terrie Hall and the other former smokers in the Tips ads, more than 1.6 million smokers tried to quit in the first year of the campaign and at least 100,000 succeeded in doing so, according to a study published in The Lancet in September.

Terrie Hall is a heroine who continues to save lives.