The Consequences of Smoking
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Smoking causes immediate damage to your body, which can lead to long-term health problems. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. The only proven strategy to protect yourself from harm is to never smoke, and if you do smoke or use tobacco products, to quit.
Real People, Real Stories
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the first-ever federally funded national tobacco education campaign—Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) in March 2012. The Tips campaign, which profiles real people—not actors—who are living with serious long-term health problems from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, continues through 2016.
Since its launch, the Tips campaign has featured compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities and the toll these conditions have taken on them. The campaign has also featured nonsmokers who have experienced life-threatening health incidents as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke (smoke from burning tobacco products; also, smoke exhaled by smokers).
Tips ads focus on health issues caused or made worse by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, including:
- Cancer (lung, throat, head and neck, colorectal)
- Heart disease
- Diabetes complications
- Buerger’s disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Gum disease (which may include losing your teeth)
- Preterm birth (when a baby is born before it's due)
- Vision loss
- Dual use (the current use of both cigarettes and at least one other type of tobacco product)
- Mental health conditions (depression and anxiety)
The Tips campaign engages doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and many other health care providers so they can encourage their smoking patients to quit for good.
Tips Campaign Goals
- Build public awareness of the immediate health damage caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Encourage smokers to quit and make free help available.
- Encourage smokers not to smoke around others and nonsmokers to protect themselves and their families from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Tips Campaign Audience
- The main audience is smokers ages 18 through 54.
- Other audiences include parents, family members, adolescents, health care providers, and faith communities.
Tips Campaign Key Messages
- Smoking causes immediate damage to your body, which can lead to long-term health problems.
- For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.
- Now is the time to quit smoking, and if you want help, free assistance is available.
Tips Campaign Results to Date
In September 2013, The Lancet medical journal published an article about the effects of the 2012 Tips campaign, reporting that:
- The Tips campaign motivated 1.64 million smokers to make a quit attempt.
- About 100,000 U.S. smokers are expected to stay quit for good as a result of the 2012 campaign.
- More than 6 million nonsmokers talked with friends and family about the dangers of smoking, and an estimated 4.7 million nonsmokers recommended cessation services to their friends and family to help them quit.
The December 2014 online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the 2012 Tips campaign. It showed that, based on the number of people estimated to have quit smoking for good (about 100,000 people), the campaign will also prevent at least 17,000 premature deaths and help gain about 179,000 years of healthy life. With total campaign costs of about $48 million, Tips spent approximately:
- $480 per smoker who quit
- $2,819 per premature death prevented
- $393 per year of life saved
- $268 per year of healthy life gained
At those amounts, the Tips campaign is a “best buy” in public health, where the standard for a cost-effective health program is $50,000 per year of life saved.
Tips Campaign Resources
Free help is available for those who want to quit. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or explore I'm Ready to Quit! Spanish speakers can call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) or explore ¡Estoy listo para dejar de fumar!
- Page last reviewed: December 15, 2015
- Page last updated: December 15, 2015
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