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CDC Ad Campaign Shows Grisly Effects of Smoking

June 26, 2014
One in five U.S. adults use tobacco products, according to CDC’s latest estimates. The agency aims to lower that number with its “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which features former smokers who are living with the horrific effects of smoking-related diseases.

One in five U.S. adults use tobacco products, according to CDC’s latest estimates. The agency aims to lower that number with its “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which features former smokers who are living with the horrific effects of smoking-related diseases.

“These new ads are powerful. They highlight illnesses and suffering caused by smoking that people don’t commonly associate with cigarette use,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. “Smokers have told us these ads help them quit by showing what it’s like to live every day with disability and disfigurement from smoking.”

Starting on July 7, ads will run nationwide on TV, radio, billboards and websites, as well as in theaters, magazines and newspapers.

Campaign participants include Amanda, a 30-year-old who smoked during pregnancy and whose baby was born two months early and then spent weeks in an incubator. According to the 2014 surgeon general’s report on the health consequences of smoking, at least one in 10 women smoke during the last three months of pregnancy.

The ads also feature:

  • Brett, 49, who lost most of his teeth to gum disease by age 42.
  • Brian, 45, whose smoking and HIV led to clogged blood vessels and a stroke.
  • Felicita, 54, who lost all of her teeth to gum disease by age 50.
  • Rose, 59, whose lung cancer resulted in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Shawn, 50, who breathes through the opening in his throat due to smoking-related throat cancer.

Another new ad features Terrie, who – before dying of cancer last September at age 53 – pled to any smoker willing to listen, “Keep trying until you succeed. I don't want anybody to have to go through what I’m going through.”

Two Spanish-language ads will run on national Spanish media channels. One features Rose, who has lung cancer, while a second features Felicita and Brett, both of whom lost their teeth to smoking.

Since CDC first launched its “Tips” campaign in 2012, the agency said the campaign has helped hundreds of thousands of smokers quit.

The campaign coincides with the release of CDC’s National Adult Tobacco Survey, which indicates that 21.3 percent of U.S. adults – 50 million people – used a tobacco product every day or some days in 2012-2013.

Consistent with other national surveys of cigarette smoking, the CDC survey shows that tobacco use was greater among men, among people who are less educated and have lower household incomes, and among lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender adults.

The new ads encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or to visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view the personal stories from the campaign. A nine-week “Tips” campaign that ran earlier this year generated more than 100,000 additional calls to the hotline, according to CDC.  

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing about 480,000 Americans each year. In addition to the human cost, smoking takes a devastating toll on the nation’s economy – costing more than $289 billion a year, including at least $133 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity. 

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