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Tips Campaign Matte Article for General Public

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CDC's Tips From Former Smokers Campaign Airing a New Round of Hard-Hitting Commercials

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing its national tobacco education campaign—Tips From Former Smokers (Tips)—with hard-hitting new TV commercials that feature real people who have experienced the harms caused by smoking. The ads began airing across the United States on March 30, 2015. They underscore the immediate and long-term damage smoking can do to the body.

CDC launched the first Tips From Former Smokers campaign in 2012 to lower smoking rates and save lives. A CDC study published in The Lancet shows that 1.64 million smokers tried to quit during the 2012 campaign period. As a result, researchers estimate that about 100,000 of those smokers will stay quit for good.1

The newest ads raise awareness about dual tobacco use and smokers’ risks for vision loss and colorectal cancer. The ad participants come from all walks of life and include the following:

  • Julia, a mother from Mississippi, was 49 when she nearly died of colon cancer. She developed cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Then one day, her pain and bloating got much, much worse. "I will never forget that day. I was so sick. They found the tumor in my colon and rushed me to the hospital," said Julia. The tumor completely blocked her intestines, which can be life threatening. Julia had surgery right away, followed by months of chemotherapy to treat the cancer. She also needed an ostomy bag, which was taped to a hole in her abdomen to collect waste. Julia has since quit smoking and says her life is so much better without cigarettes. “My colostomy was an important part of my healing process. It allowed me to heal and prevented me from getting an infection or worse. I would do it again, because it saved my life.” Julia hopes that people who hear her story about smoking and colon cancer will quit as soon as possible.
  • Mark, a father and a military veteran, was diagnosed with rectal cancer at age 42. He used cigarettes or smokeless tobacco—and sometimes both—through two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. Mark had surgery and chemotherapy to treat his cancer. He also needed an ostomy bag taped to a hole in his abdomen to collect waste for about 6 months. He quit smoking soon after his cancer diagnosis. “All the negative effects that you think are never going to happen, like getting colorectal cancer, they happen. Trust me," said Mark. “For me, the ostomy was absolutely necessary. The choice was having the procedure or I was going to die. There’s no question—without an ostomy, I wouldn’t be here today, and if I had to do it over again, I would.” He's passionate about the importance of getting regular screenings for colorectal cancer and seeing a doctor if you have any symptoms of colorectal cancer.
  • Kristy, a 33-year-old mother of three, was a heavy smoker who developed smoker’s cough and shortness of breath. She tried using e-cigarettes as a way to cut back, but she continued to smoke regular cigarettes. Her cough didn't get better, and eventually, Kristy went back to smoking only cigarettes. Soon after, her lung collapsed. "I could never get completely off regular cigarettes until I wound up in the hospital," she said. Today, Kristy loves being a nonsmoker. "I can actually breathe," she said. "I can play with my kids. When I smoked, I had no energy. It just affected my whole life!"
  • Marlene first noticed vision problems at age 56. She had trouble reading; accidentally cut herself in the kitchen; and would frequently fall on the stairs, even when walking down only a few steps. She was eventually diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—an eye disease that can destroy the central vision you need to read, drive, and recognize the faces of your loved ones. Smoking doubles the risk for AMD. Soon after being diagnosed, Marlene quit smoking for good. The best chance for slowing her vision loss was a drug that must be injected through a needle into each eye. To date, she’s had dozens of shots in each eye. “I’m happy and grateful that I’m able to get treatments—that there are treatments. Years ago, there was no help, and people with macular degeneration just lost their central vision. If you notice a change in your vision, don’t be frightened to say anything. Go and get help before it’s too late!”

Smoking causes a variety of severe health problems, and living with these health problems can be very difficult for smokers and for their families. Unfortunately, even though smoking rates have declined over the years, tobacco use still results in far too many deaths, disabilities, and smoking-related illnesses.

  • Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause more than 480,000 deaths a year in the United States and are among the main causes of early disability.2
  • Statistics show that Americans pay a high price in illnesses and deaths due to tobacco use. For every smoking-related death, at least 30 Americans live with a serious smoking-related illness.2 These illnesses include asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD makes it hard to breathe and can lead to an early death. Smoking can also make other health conditions—such as diabetes—much worse.

"Most smokers want to quit. They don’t want to suffer or be a burden on their families," said Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, senior medical officer in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "By showing how real people and their families are affected by smoking-related diseases, the Tips campaign can help motivate people to quit for good."

For more information about the Tips campaign and resources for quitting smoking, visit CDC.gov/tips. For help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

References

  1. McAfee T, Davis KC, Alexander RL, Pechacek TF, Bunnel R. Effect of the First Federally Funded US Antismoking National Media Campaign. The Lancet 2013;382(9909):2003–11 [accessed 2015 May 22].
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2015 May 22].

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