Showing tobacco smokers the debilitating effects of cigarettes has spurred 200,000 to quit, with half that number expected to quit for good.
Terrie Hall was a cheerleader in high school, but after smoking up to two packs of cigarettes a day, she had her larynx removed due to throat cancer. Now 52, Hall speaks through an artificial voice box, which gives her words a gravely, digital quality.
“If you’re a smoker, make a video of yourself before all this happens. Read a children’s storybook or sing a lullaby. I wish I had. The only voice my grandsons have ever heard is this voice,” she said in an anti-smoking ad.
In the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Tips From a Former Smoker” series, Hall and other former smokers talked about the potentially serious complications of smoking, including having a heart attack at 52 and learning to shower with a stoma. (Click here to see some of the ads on Youtube.)
The CDC announced Monday that as a result of their 2012 “Tips” campaign, an estimated 1.6 million American smokers attempted to quit, 200,000 quit smoking immediately, and 100,000 smokers have quit for good. By the CDC’s estimates, the campaign added a third of a million years of life to the U.S. population.
“This is exciting news. Quitting can be hard, and I congratulate and celebrate with former smokers—this is the most important step you can take to a longer, healthier life,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters. “I encourage anyone who tried to quit to keep trying—it may take several attempts to succeed.”
The CDC surveyed smokers before and after the campaign and found that 80 percent of smokers recalled seeing one or more of the advertisements.
The $54 million CDC campaign was funded by a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. $54 million is about seven percent of what tobacco companies spend annually on advertising. Other provisions in the law cover many expenses for preventative care, including programs to help smokers quit.
“Hard-hitting campaigns like ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ are great investments in public health,” Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, told reporters. “This study shows that we save a year of life for less than $200. That makes it one of the most cost-effective prevention efforts.”
This January is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s first ever report on the health effects of smoking, concluding that smoking causes lung cancer. Smoking continues to remain the No. 1 preventable cause of death worldwide, resulting in 1,200 deaths a day, according to CDC estimates.
If you or someone you love is trying to quit smoking, the CDC urges you to call their toll-free helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.