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

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 28, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that it is launching a new round of its nationwide media campaign – Tips from Former Smokers (TIPS) – to encourage smokers to quit and prevent children from starting to smoke. We applaud the CDC for continuing this highly effective campaign for a second year, and for recognizing that winning the fight against tobacco requires a sustained commitment and investment of resources.

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The CDC's campaign is a smart investment that will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the United States. Tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million every hour – to market their deadly and addictive products, often in ways that entice kids. The CDC's campaign tells the harsh truth about how devastating and unglamorous cigarette smoking truly is.

Last year's 12-week advertising campaign was highly effective in motivating smokers to try to quit. While the ads aired, the government's toll-free quitline received more than 365,000 calls, a 132 percent increase compared to the same period in 2011. The government's quit-smoking website received almost 630,000 unique visitors during the campaign, a 428 percent increase compared to the same 2011 period.

Research indicates the most effective anti-smoking media campaigns evoke strong emotions and realistically depict the devastating health consequences of tobacco use – just as the new CDC ads do. These ads offer smokers encouragement and help in quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visiting

There is an urgent need to continue this campaign. While the U.S. has made enormous progress in reducing tobacco use, smoking declines have slowed in recent years as states have slashed funding for tobacco prevention programs and the tobacco industry has continued its aggressive marketing. Tobacco is still the nation's number one cause of preventable death, killing 443,000 Americans each year.

A U.S. Surgeon General's report issued last year found that youth smoking is still a 'pediatric epidemic,' driven by tobacco industry marketing that lures children to begin and continue using tobacco. Coming nearly 50 years after the 1964 Surgeon General's report first alerted the nation to the deadly consequences of smoking, the CDC's campaign is a crucial step toward ending the tobacco epidemic.

We applaud the CDC and the Obama Administration for continuing this national media campaign and for their leadership in the fight against tobacco use. Funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care reform law, this campaign underscores the fund's potential to improve health and reduce health care costs in the United States.

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:

  • The 2012 Surgeon General's report concluded, 'Evidence indicates that mass media campaigns can be one of the most effective strategies in changing social norms and preventing youth smoking.' The report also found 'strong evidence that media ads designed for adults also decrease the prevalence of smoking among youth.'

  • A comprehensive 2008 scientific review by the National Cancer Institute concluded that 'advertisements that arouse strong negative emotions perform better than those that do not. These advertisements tend to depict serious harm done by smoking or secondhand smoke in an authentic way….'

  • States that have conducted extensive media campaigns as part of their successful tobacco prevention programs – including California, Florida, New York and Washington – have reduced smoking rates far faster, and to lower levels, than the nation as a whole. The evidence shows that media campaigns have helped drive these declines.

  • Nationally, research found that Legacy's truth® campaign, targeted at young people, was responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its first four years.

  • There is also growing evidence that tobacco prevention and cessation programs – including media campaigns – save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. A December 2011 study found that in the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, which included mass media, Washington State saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent.

The CDC's new advertisements can be viewed at

Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew L. Myers commends the 2013 CDC advertising campaign