Former Smokers and Their Families Speak Out

Montage of photo portraits of Tips From Former Smokers Participants for 2019

Let our new Tips From Former Smokers® ads inspire you to quit smoking, or to share them with a loved one who needs motivation to quit!

Are you looking for motivation to quit smoking or trying to inspire a loved one quit for good? If so, CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign is currently on air with new ads that can give you the inspiration you need. These new ads tell not only the stories of people who used to smoke, but of family members impacted by their smoking-related illnesses. Tips participants are real people dealing with the real consequences of smoking.

Ads will appear on network and cable television and on digital media channels through early October. The 2019 campaign will also include ads from past years, focusing on diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). From 2012 to 2015, CDC estimates Tips inspired more than half a million people to quit smoking for good. More than 9 million Americans have tried to quit because of the campaign. While it may take many tries to quit smoking permanently, don’t get discouraged! Each try brings you one step closer.

There are now more former smokers in the U.S. than there are people who currently smoke, which is good news. However, cigarette smoking still causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Millions of people are living with smoking-related diseases—some of whom have never smoked. People who breathe secondhand smoke can have health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Children with a parent who smokes may be more likely to smoke themselves.

Leonard smoked for 37 years. His wife Susan explains that although Leonard worried he might develop lung cancer, he never expected that COPD would end his life.

New Ads Continue to Tell Powerful Stories

No One Is Immune: Leonard Nimoy’s Story

Actor Leonard Nimoy is probably best known for his role as “Spock” in the popular TV and film series, Star Trek. He also smoked for 37 years. Although he quit for good in the 1980s, smoking had permanently damaged his lungs. Doctors diagnosed Leonard with COPD, the illness that eventually took his life. COPD is group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. The condition is usually caused by smoking and symptoms are worse when lungs are more damaged. The best way to prevent COPD is never to start smoking. If you do smoke, quit. Before his death in 2015, Leonard spoke out to his millions of fans about the dangers of smoking. Now, his family carries on his legacy by sharing Leonard’s story through Tips.

Speaking Across Generations: Dana and Terrie

Dana is the daughter of a previous Tips ad participant, Terrie. Terrie had both mouth and throat cancer that caused her death in 2013. In this new ad, Dana shares how difficult it was to watch her mother suffer from her tobacco-related illnesses. Terrie’s cancer returned several times and eventually spread to her brain. Multiple surgeries scarred Terrie’s face and neck, and chemotherapy treatments left her weak. Dana, who also quit smoking successfully, says her mission now is to help spread her mother’s message—to inspire those who smoke to quit and help keep young people from starting.

Terrie also speaks in a new ad featuring previously unreleased footage. A gravely ill Terrie, speaking through an artificial replacement for the larynx (voice box) that was removed, tells Tips viewers that she wishes she had never seen a cigarette, much less picked one up and smoked it. Terrie asked that she be able to film the emotional ad as she dealt with the final stages of her cancer in 2013. She died two days after filming.

A Whole Family Affected: Christine

In two new ads, Christine, who was featured in previous Tips campaigns, talks about how her smoking hurt her children. Christine had smoked heavily for 28 years before she got a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2007. She had radiation and chemotherapy treatment, but the cancer returned twice, leading to surgeries and a long, painful recovery. Because of her poor health, Christine’s teenage children had to take on adult responsibilities around the house. Christine ended up losing some teeth and half her lower jaw to cancer. Far worse, she says, her children were “robbed of their childhood” because of the continued care she needed.  Christine is 55 now and speaks out about the harms of smoking, because she wants to keep other families from going through the same thing.

Whether you’ve smoked for decades or days, whether you smoke every day or on occasion, quitting completely is a huge step toward better health for you and those around you.

Resources for Quitting

People who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death. The younger you are when you quit, the better your chances of avoiding health problems, but quitting at any age will benefit your health.

  • Access free resources and find out more about how to quit at CDC.gov/quit.
  • For local and national quitting resources and support, call a Quitline—available in EnglishExternal, SpanishExternal, and three Asian languagesExternal:
    • English: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
    • Spanish: 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569)
    • Korean: 1-800-556-5564
    • Chinese: 1-800-838-8917
    • Vietnamese: 1-800-778-8440

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2019
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