First Federally-Funded Anti-Smoking Campaign Encouraged Quitting, Study Shows

A bold campaign by the federal government to advertise the dangers of smoking appears to have paid off. A study reveals that the three-month national advertising campaign led 200,000 smokers to quit immediately.

You’ve probably spotted the occasional public-service announcement about the dangers of smoking.

But this is the first time the federal government has paid for a national ad campaign involving TV, radio and print.

The series was called “Tips From Former Smokers.”

It first aired in the spring of 2012.

This spot features Terrie, a former cheerleader who later developed mouth and throat cancer. 

“If you’re a smoker, I have a tip for you. Make a video of yourself, before all this happens.”

Another spot shows Terrie’s post-cancer morning routine: putting on a wig and installing a device over the new breathing hole in her neck.

A study on the ads was just published in the medical journal The Lancet.

It showed that 80 percent of smokers saw the campaign.

The number of smokers trying to quit increased, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that after the campaign ended, more than a quarter of a million smokers had quit.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says the sometimes shocking ads also galvanized non-smokers.

“After they saw the ads, millions of non-smokers talked to friends and families about the dangers of smoking and referred them to programs that could help ‘em quit and could save their lives.” 

The government has spent $102 million dollars on two rounds of ads.

The funding is part of the Affordable Care Act.

CDC officials say the study shows it is money well spent, especially when compared to the tobacco industry — which spends $22 million dollars a day on tobacco marketing.  

A new round of ads is planned for 2014. 

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...