As a result of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national advertising campaign called “Tips from Former Smokers,” 100,000 smokers successfully quit smoking and 1.6 million more smokers attempted to quit smoking, according to the medical journal The Lancet. This was the first federally funded national media campaign that focused on reducing the number of people who smoke by portraying individuals living with smoking related diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, amputations from Buerger’s disease, throat cancer, heart attack and asthma. This was a new and innovative way of getting people to quit smoking because usually, these type of media campaigns focus on how smoking can lead to death and not how it impacts the quality of life.
The ads gave me a chilling effect from watching the traumatic health consequences people who smoke can endure. The CDC gathered feedback from smokers and found that an increase in awareness of the negative impact smoking has on their quality of life is more effective at motivating people to quit smoking than focusing on death.
Funding for the “Tips” campaign came from the Prevention and Public Health fund, a funding source that was created as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The campaign lasted only 3 months and cost $54 million dollars. This is less than 0.7% of the 8.8 billion the tobacco industry spends each year marketing their deadly products. Based on the effectiveness of this campaign, there is no doubt that the 54 million dollars was a well spent investment in helping reduce the number of people who smoke and saving lives. As a matter of fact, the former smokers that were an outcome of the “Tips” campaign added more than a third of a million years of life to the U.S. population.
The success of the “Tips” campaign is telling of the importance of the Prevention and Public Health Fund to continue to improve health and reduce health care costs in the U.S through its funding of media campaigns that evoke strong emotions and portray real health consequences that smoking can be attributed to.
The “Tips” campaign also calls attention to the fact that many people who smoke want to quit but may need additional attempts before they are successful. The American Lung Association has launched its “Quitter in You” campaign to assist these individuals. The purpose of the campaign is to reassure people who are trying to quit that their previous quit attempts are not failures, but instead opportunities to learn more about the “quitter” in them. More information on this campaign can be found at http://www.quitterinyou.org/.
As a nation, there have been great strides to reduce tobacco use and tobacco related disease. Unfortunately, there are still over 400,000 Americans a year whose lives are lost due to tobacco use. But these lives can be saved if we continue to implement effective strategies, such as the “Tips” advertising campaign that give smokers a dose of reality on what their lives will be like if they continue smoking.