Anyone who watched TV, or even just YouTube last spring has seen the ads. Men and women giving “tips” from their personal experiences with smoking and second-hand smoke. The most infamous of the spots would undoubtedly be Terrie, the woman who advised smokers to record their voices for their grandchildren before their voice boxes are removed due to cancer.
Today, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has claimed that the “Tips From Former Smokers” ad campaign has actually been successful. Since the start of the campaign in 2012, the CDC estimates that 1.6 million Americans attempted to quit smoking, overshooting the CDC’s goal of 500,000 quitting attempts. The agency is estimating that around 100,000 of those who attempted to quit will succeed, more than the CDC’s original goal of 50,000 total quitters.
“This is exciting news. Quitting can be hard and I congratulate and celebrate with former smokers – this is the most important step you can take to a longer, healthier life,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “I encourage anyone who tried to quit to keep trying – it may take several attempts to succeed.’’
The estimated results of the ad campaign come from a survey the CDC conducted, the results of which have been published this week in the journal The Lancet. Researchers surveyed both smokers and non-smokers before and after the ad campaign, which lasted from March to June 2012. 80% of smokers stated that they had seen one of the ads at least once, and calls to the CDC’s “1-800-QUIT-NOW” hotline more than doubled during the campaign.
The “tips” ad campaign, according to the CDC, represents the first time a federal agency developed paid ads for tobacco eduction. The agency is claiming success, saying that the $54 million campaign was public health money well-spent. The CDC has continued the “tips” campaign with new ads earlier this year. There are also plans for even more “tips” ads, to air sometime in 2014.
“Hard-hitting campaigns like ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ are great investments in public health,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, lead author of the survey and director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC. “This study shows that we save a year of life for less than $200. That makes it one of the most cost-effective prevention efforts.”