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Announcements: CDC Launches National Tobacco Education Campaign

Many smokers do not fully understand the health risks of smoking and underestimate their personal risk (1). Media campaigns are an evidence-based strategy to educate the public regarding the harms of tobacco use, prevent smoking initiation, promote and facilitate cessation, and change social norms on the acceptability of tobacco use (2,3). Media campaigns that have strong negative messages regarding health effects, that use testimonials, or that address the impact of smoking on others have been demonstrated to be effective (2–4). Smokers who report being exposed to advertisements that are more highly emotional and include personal testimonials have been shown to be more likely to have quit smoking at follow-up (3), and graphic television advertisements have been associated with increased call volume to telephone quitlines (5).

On March 15, 2012, CDC launched a 12-week national education campaign on the dangers of tobacco use. This campaign, "Tips from Former Smokers," profiles real persons who are living with the significant adverse health effects of smoking-related diseases, such as stomas, paralysis from stroke, lung removal, heart attack, and limb amputations. The multimedia campaign will include advertisements that will be placed nationally via television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, billboards, bus stops, and movie theaters. Advertisements will include a prompt for smokers to call 800-QUIT-NOW for free help to quit. Additional information is available at


  1. Weinstein ND, Marcus SE, Moser RP. Smokers' unrealistic optimism about their risk. Tob Control 2005;14:55–9.
  2. National Cancer Institute. The role of the media in promoting and reducing tobacco use. Tobacco control monograph no. 19. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute; 2008.
  3. Wakefield M, Loken B, Hornik RC. Use of mass media campaigns to change health behaviour. Lancet 2010;376:1261–71.
  4. US Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2012.
  5. Farrelly MC, Davis KC, Nonnemaker JM, Kamyab K, Jackson C. Promoting calls to a quitline: quantifying the influence of message theme, strong negative emotions and graphic images in television advertisements. Tob Control 2011;20:279–84.

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