Three years ago, the CDC launched “Tips From Former Smokers,” the first federally funded anti-smoking paid media campaign. The ads included striking real-life stories of smokers’ struggles with smoking-related health issues, such as cancer, gum disease, premature birth, and stroke. Since its launch, the campaign has helped at least 400,000 smokers quit according to CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. An estimated 104,000 Americans quit smoking for good as a result of the 2014 campaign alone.
The 2014 campaign aired in 2 phases from February to April and July to September. In a survey, about 80% of U.S. adult cigarette smokers said they had seen at least 1 television ad from phase 2 of the campaign.
Tips is “extremely cost-effective and a best buy, saving both lives and money,” said Frieden. “With a year-round campaign we could save even more lives and money.”
As effective as the campaign is, it’s up against a tough antagonist that refuses to surrender. Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health added, “The money spent in 1 year on ‘Tips’ is less than the amount the tobacco industry spends on advertising and promotion in just 3 days.”
Moreover, young people are, in a sense, cannon fodder. “We know that 90% of all adult smokers first try cigarettes as teens,” Graffunder said. According to the CDC’s 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, overall tobacco use among middle- and high school students has not changed since 2011; 4.7 million were current users of a tobacco product in 2015. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product by adolescents, the CDC found, and its use continues to climb.