The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2013 Tips From Former Smokers campaign produced more than 150,000 additional calls to 1-800-QUIT NOW, a number that links callers to their state quitlines, according to a report in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The campaign also generated almost 2.8 million additional visitors to the campaign website, www.cdc.gov/tips. The website features information on the campaign, as well as information on how to quit smoking from the National Cancer Institute's www.smokefree.gov website.
These figures represent a 75 percent increase in call volume and a nearly 38-fold increase in unique website visitors, compared with the four weeks before the campaign began. The analysis also found that average weekly calls fell by 41 percent and website visitors fell by 96 percent during the four weeks after the campaign ended.
The 2013 campaign's television component included national ads in all 210 U.S. television markets and additional local ads in 67 of these markets. The television buy used a "pulsing" strategy in which the national televisions ads aired on a 1-week-on, 1-week-off basis for the first 12 weeks of the campaign, while the local television ads ran continuously throughout the campaign. The number of calls fell by 38 percent during the six weeks when the national television ads were off the air, compared with the six weeks when the national ads were airing. These findings suggest that a longer campaign with sustained broad reach could produce even greater benefits, including more quit attempts and successful long-term quits.
"The TIPS campaign continues to be a huge success, saving tens of thousands of lives and millions of dollars; I wish we had the resources to run it all year long," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Most Americans who have ever smoked have already quit, and most people who still smoke want to quit. If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health – and you can succeed!"
The 2013 campaign ran for 16 weeks, from March 4 through June 23. It featured a variety of ads of real people who are living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. The graphic, emotional ads show how the health effects from their smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke changed their lives forever.
A study published September 9th in The Lancet reported that the 2012 Tips campaign likely resulted in 1.6 million additional smokers making a quit attempt and over 100,000 sustained quitters. It further showed the 2012 campaign added between 300,000 and 500,000 years of life to those Americans who quit smoking.
"This week, Terrie Hall, the only ad participant featured in the Tips campaign in both 2012 and 2013, lost her 13 year battle with smoking-related cancer," said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Terrie's desire to share her story in efforts to help others know the dangers of smoking is truly a public health inspiration."
The Tips From Former Smokers campaign is an important counter to the more than $8.3 billion spent annually by the tobacco industry to make cigarettes more attractive and more available, particularly to youth and young adults. The 2013 campaign cost $48 million dollars to develop and implement – less than the amount the tobacco industry spends on promoting and marketing cigarettes in just three days.
This January will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day. More than 8 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. Each day, over 1,000 youth under 18 become daily smokers. Smoking-related diseases cost Americans $96 billion a year in direct health care expenses, a substantial portion of which come in taxpayer-supported payments.
Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans than ever will qualify to get health care coverage that fits their needs and budget, including important preventive services such as services to quit smoking that are covered with no additional costs. Get ready today for the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Visit Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more. Open enrollment in the Marketplace begins October 1 for coverage starting as early as Jan. 1, 2014.
For more information on the Tips From Former Smokers campaign, including profiles of the former smokers, other campaign resources, and links to the ads, visit www.cdc.gov/Tips.