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Frequently Asked Questions About the Tips Campaign

Why is this campaign running when people are well aware of the dangers of smoking?
The science shows that these types of hard-hitting ads help people quit, saving lives and decreasing the huge economic burden caused by tobacco use. Despite the known dangers of smoking, it remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. More than 16 million Americans are living with a smoking-related disease, and every day more than 3,200 children younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette. Nearly 70% of smokers say they want to quit, and nearly half make a serious quit attempt each year.

In addition to the human cost, smoking takes a devastating toll on our nation's economy—costing more than $289 billion a year (including at least $133 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity).

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Is this a good use of government funds?

The Tips campaign shares the truth about smoking through the lives of real people living with smoking-related illnesses. Despite the known dangers of smoking, it remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Besides the human cost, smoking takes a devastating toll on our nation’s economy—costing more than $289 billion a year (including at least $133 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity).

Research shows that educational efforts like this provide an excellent return on investment, saving lives and lowering health care costs. The Tips campaigns serve as an important counter to the more than $950,000 that the tobacco industry spends each hour—more than $23 million a day—on cigarette advertising and promotion. The Tips campaign that ran in 2012 cost less than the tobacco industry spends in 3 days on marketing and promotion.

Smokers who want to quit have responded dramatically to the Tips campaigns. A study of the 2012 campaign was published in the medical journal, The Lancet. It reported that:

  • An estimated 1.64 million Americans tried to quit smoking because of the campaign.
  • At least 100,000 smokers are expected to stay quit for good.
  • An estimated 6 million nonsmokers talked with friends and family about the dangers of smoking, and an estimated 4.7 million additional nonsmokers recommended cessation services to their friends and family

The average weekly number of calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline rose by 75% during the 2013 campaign, and visits to this Web site increased 38-fold.

CDC is committed to helping smokers quit and preventing young people from starting in the first place.

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Everyone knows smoking is very bad for your health. What new information are these ads providing?

The personal stories depicted in this series of ads are compelling and communicate in a very human way that smoking causes immediate damage to your body and that it can happen at a young age and be severe. Hard-hitting media campaigns have been proven to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to motivate smokers to quit. Nearly 70% of smokers say they want to quit, and nearly half make a serious quit attempt each year. The ads also promote resources like 1-800-QUIT-NOW and CDC.gov/tips to further help smokers quit. Spanish-language ads promote resources like 1-855-DÉJELO YA and CDC.gov/consejos.

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What evidence proves that graphic, hard-hitting campaigns are effective?

Hard-hitting media campaigns have been proven to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to motivate smokers to quit. The Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute, and Surgeon General have all recommended a national media campaign as part of a comprehensive approach for ending the smoking epidemic. Numerous studies have consistently shown that ads carrying strong negative messages about health consequences are more effective than many other forms of advertising, such as humorous or emotionally neutral advertisements. These ads were developed through rigorous testing. Smokers said this kind of message can help them quit successfully.

Evaluation results of the 2012 Tips From Former Smokers campaign were published on September 9, 2013, in the medical journal, The Lancet. They indicated that:

  • An estimated 1.64 million Americans tried to quit smoking because of the campaign.
  • At least 100,000 smokers are expected to stay quit for good.
  • An estimated 6 million nonsmokers talked with friends and family about the dangers of smoking, and an estimated 4.7 million additional nonsmokers recommended cessation services to their friends and family.

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Is CDC limiting the hours and programming where the ads will be run?

We understand the strong nature of these messages and have done all that is possible within the conventions of broadcast advertising to protect young children from these ads. No ads will be run on children’s programming (for example, Disney® and Nickelodeon®).

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Are the people featured in this campaign real or actors?

These are not actors; they are real people telling their real stories. They come from a variety of states and backgrounds. They wanted to tell their stories to help prevent other people from suffering the same consequences.

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Isn’t CDC concerned that ads showing people with serious health issues and disabilities might adversely impact people who have these conditions but never smoked?

The Tips From Former Smokers ads feature people who have experienced real health consequences as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. These ads are not intended to suggest that all people suffer from these medical conditions as a result of smoking. Rather, the ads are intended to provide accurate information about the damage smoking can cause by showing the illnesses and disabilities that can result from smoking. The former smokers featured in the ads are sharing their own individual stories in the hopes that their experiences can benefit others.

It is CDC’s hope that all Americans will understand the importance of using strategies found to be most effective to reduce smoking and save lives. The most effective smoking-cessation advertisements depict the health risks and emotional impact of long-term tobacco use, encourage smokers to quit, and provide information on how to quit.

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Why is heart disease included in the Tips campaign when many people with heart disease have never smoked?

The Tips From Former Smokers ads featuring people with heart disease are in no way intended to suggest that all heart-related medical conditions result from smoking. These ads provide accurate information about the damage smoking can cause by showing the illnesses and disabilities that can result from smoking. The former smokers featured in the ads are sharing their own individual stories in the hopes that their experiences can benefit others.

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What about people who smoke for years and do not die from a smoking-related disease?

While it is true that some smokers do not die from smoking-related diseases, for every smoking-related death, at least 30 more Americans live with a smoking-related illness. Smoking remains the largest cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans every year. Half of all long-time smokers die prematurely because of their tobacco use. The latest research shows that the life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years less than that of nonsmokers. The best thing smokers can do to protect their health and that of their families is to quit smoking.

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How can I find out about smokefree policies in my area?

You can find information about your state’s tobacco laws by visiting the State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System. Your state’s Tobacco Control Highlights Report provides an overview of state tobacco laws plus other helpful information about tobacco use in your state.

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Are there resources for people who want to quit smoking?

There are a number of free resources to help smokers quit and stay smokefree. You can contact your state tobacco quitline by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The quitline coach can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support. Online resources for quitting smoking are available on this site. Spanish speakers can call 1-855-DÉJELO YA or access CDC.gov/consejos.

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How can I get materials based on the Tips campaign?
Campaign resources available on this Web site for smokers and nonsmokers include:

Other campaign materials are available free, for a limited time, at CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers Download Center. These materials can be used free of charge for educational or information purposes or as part of community or organization programs to decrease smoking and encourage quitting. They include:

  • Low-resolution TV, print, radio, online, and out-of-home ads for use by educators, health care providers, and community organizations
  • Continuous-loop videos for doctors’ offices, clinics, etc.
  • Public service announcements (PSAs) about quitting smoking and the effects of secondhand smoke (available in English and Spanish)

For information about broadcast-quality ads, use of PSAs for media, use of materials in textbooks, and use of materials as part of a media buy or placement, please contact CDC’s Media Campaign Resource Center.

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Why does this campaign address secondhand smoke?

Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Although the primary target audience for the Tips From Former Smokers campaign is smokers, raising awareness about the effect of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers is also a campaign goal. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.

Several ads focus on people who have had lung damage or severe asthma attacks that were triggered by secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke exposure can trigger heart attacks and cause heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Secondhand smoke also causes death and sickness in children. Secondhand smoke is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children who breathe secondhand smoke are also more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma.

Only 100% smokefree indoor environments fully protect from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. Separate “no smoking” sections DO NOT protect from secondhand smoke — neither does ventilation, filtering the air, or opening a window.

More information about secondhand smoke is available at CDC’s Secondhand Smoke page.

There are a number of free resources to help smokers quit and stay smokefree. You can contact your state tobacco quitline by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The quitline coach can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support. Online resources for quitting smoking are available on this site. Spanish speakers can call 1-855-DÉJELO YA or access CDC.gov/consejos.

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