Dose of Reality Effective at Stopping Smokers

CURE, Winter 2013, Volume 12, Issue 4

Advertisements featuring real people discussing health problems caused by smoking motivated 1.6 million people to quit.

A series of advertisements featuring real people discussing health problems directly caused by smoking motivated about 1.6 million people to attempt to kick the habit, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The ads, named “Tips from Former Smokers,” ran for a three-month period in 2012 in U.S. broadcast and cable TV markets, as well as on radio, in print and online.

The CDC estimated that of the 1.6 million who attempted to quit smoking, about 220,000 remained nonsmoking after the campaign ended and about half of those nonsmokers would permanently quit. The CDC’s study, published in September in The Lancet, also estimated the campaign encouraged 4.7 million nonsmokers to recommend cessation programs and 6 million people to discuss the dangers of smoking. These results were based on a survey of 3,051 smokers and 2,220 nonsmokers who viewed the campaign.

“Tips from Former Smokers” was the first federally funded antismoking campaign, launched with financial backing from the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The ads garnered attention for their stark portrayal of smokers who received diagnoses of cancer and other debilitating diseases due to their addiction.

The ads can be viewed at cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips.