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Sep 11, 2013

Innovative Anti-Smoking Campaign a Success

First federally funded anti-smoking campaign helps smokers quit with tips from former smokers.

Although smoking rates have steadily declined over the past few decades, we still have a long way to go in eliminating this leading preventable cause of death. And according to a recent study, the innovative anti-smoking campaign referred to as “Tips” is just what we needed to revitalize national smoking cessation efforts.

This three-month “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign was kicked off in March 2012 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the nation’s health protection agency. Comprised of TV commercials and print ads, this campaign featured emotionally evocative images and messages from actual smokers to illustrate the devastating impacts that smoking can have on health. But instead of focusing on smoking as a cause of death, these ads focused on its impact on quality of life. Ads featured actual patients suffering from asthma, cancer and stroke and offered a simple tip: you can avoid this by quitting smoking and for free help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

A study published in The Lancet evaluated the campaign to see if it was effective in lowering smoking rates and it’s clear that the ads hit home for many smokers. Using census data from before and after the campaign, which ran from March through June 2012, researchers found that not only did the campaign reach most Americans, quit rates increased. Roughly three-fourths of participants (smokers and non-smokers) recalled seeing at least one Tips ad during the three-month campaign and quit attempts among smokers increased from 31.1% to 34.8%. Even non-smokers were affected by the ads, as recommendations by non-smokers to others to quit nearly doubled during this time period. Researchers estimate that the campaign resulted in 4.7 million additional non-smokers recommending cessation services to their peers and the 1.64 quit attempts during the campaign could help add half a million years to smokers’ lives.

Given the success of the Tips campaign, many experts support expansion and implementation of similar campaigns globally. Each year, smoking kills more than 5 million people throughout the world and causes one in five deaths annually in the United States. By implementing campaigns like Tips From Former Smokers, millions of lives could eventually be saved by increasing quit attempts and preventing smokers from relapsing.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Why does smoking increase risk for heart disease?

  • Smoking causes plaque build up in the arteries, which reduces the flow of blood to the heart and body, increasing blood pressure. Over time, this can put an extreme strain on the heart and other parts of the body.
  • How can you help someone quit smoking?
  • Family and friends are an important source of support and motivation for a person who is trying to quit smoking. Before offering help, ask if it's OK to help, and then ask what you can do—don't assume that the person wants your help or that you know the best way to help. But if a person asks for your support, there are many things you may be able to do such as sharing your smoking history, providing emotional support, helping with avoiding triggers, helping someone who relapses, and suggesting resources. For more information about helping someone quit, read this guide.

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