Frequently Asked Questions About the Tips® Campaign

The science shows that these types of hard-hitting ads help people quit smoking, saving lives and decreasing the huge economic burden caused by tobacco smoking.

Despite the known dangers, cigarette smoking 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. Every day, about 2,000 youth under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and more than 300 youth under 18 years of age become daily cigarette smokers. Nearly 70% of adult cigarette smokers say they want to quit, and nearly half make a serious quit attempt each year.

The Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign shares the truth about tobacco smoking through the lives of real people living with smoking-related illnesses. Despite the known dangers, cigarette smoking 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 severe toll on our nation’s economy—costing more than $300 billion a year (nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity). Of the $170 billion for direct medical care to treat people suffering from smoking-related illnesses, more than 60% is paid for by government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Research shows that educational efforts like Tips save lives and lower health care costs. The Tips campaign serves as an important counter to the $8.64 billion that the tobacco industry spent in 2017 on advertising and promotion of cigarettes —more than $23 million every day, and nearly $1 million every hour. To put this into perspective, the Tips campaign that ran in 2018 cost less than what the tobacco industry spends in 3 days to market and promote cigarettes.

Smokers who want to quit have responded dramatically to the Tips campaigns. A CDC study estimates that over 9 million Americans tried to quit smoking cigarettes between 2012-2015 because of the campaign, and over half a million quit for good. In addition, in the first year of the campaign, an estimated 6 million nonsmokers talked with friends and family about the dangers of smoking. In each campaign, there was an immediate, sustained and dramatic spike in calls to the national quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, and in visits to the campaign website.

The personal stories shared in this series of ads are compelling and communicate in a very human way that tobacco smoking causes immediate damage to your body and that this damage 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.

Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®ads focus on many health issues caused by, associated with, or made worse by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, including:

  • Asthma
  • Buerger’s disease
  • Cancer (lung, throat, head and neck, colorectal)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Diabetes complications
  • Dual use (the current use of both cigarettes and electronic cigarettes)
  • Gum disease
  • Heart disease
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
  • Mental health conditions (depression and anxiety)
  • Preterm birth
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss

Hard-hitting media campaigns have been proven to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to motivate smokers to quit. Many studies have shown that ads carrying strong graphic and emotional messages about health consequences are more effective than other forms of advertising, such as humorous or emotionally neutral advertisements. Given the large scientific evidence base supporting this approach, CDC uses graphic and emotional advertisements in its Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®campaign. CDC tested these ads first with groups of smokers, and the results found that these ads would be effective.  A recently published CDC study on the long-term impact of the Tips campaign found that the campaign motivated millions of smokers to try to quit, and led to more than a half million (approximately 522,000) smokers quitting for good during 2012-2015. Other scientific studies have found that the Tips campaign has had an impact on increased calls to quitlines and increased knowledge of tobacco-related health risks. The Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute, and U.S. Surgeon General have all recommended a national media campaign as part of a comprehensive approach for ending the tobacco use epidemic.

The Tips campaign not only educates the public about the negative consequences of tobacco smoking, but also provides a supportive call to action — “You Can Quit” — and directs smokers to free resources to help them be successful.

We understand the strong nature of these messages and have taken several steps within the conventions of broadcast advertising to make sure the Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®ads reach their primary target audience, which is adults. The ads may reach some children by virtue of the fact that they watch TV, read magazines, and view ads on the internet. However, no ads will be run on children’s programming (for example, Disney and Nickelodeon).

Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign participants are not actors; they are real people telling their real stories. They come from a variety of states and backgrounds. They chose to tell their stories to help prevent other people from suffering the same consequences.

A new participant featured in the 2019 Tips campaign is Leonard Nimoy. In his career, Leonard was a professional actor, best known for his role as Spock on the popular television and film series Star Trek. However, Leonard’s participation in the Tips campaign is not as an actor, but as a real person with a real story, just like all other Tips participants. Leonard smoked cigarettes for many years before he finally quit. Unfortunately, smoking damaged his lungs, and Leonard died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in February 2015.

The Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®ads feature real people who have experienced health consequences as a result of smoking cigarettes and breathing secondhand smoke. These ads are not intended to suggest that all people who suffer from these problems smoke. They are intended to show the damage smoking can cause. The former smokers featured in the ads are sharing their own stories in the hopes that their experiences can help others.

It is CDC’s hope that all Americans will understand the importance of using effective strategies to reduce smoking and save lives. Research shows that the most effective smoking-cessation ads show the health consequences and emotional impact of long-term tobacco smoking, encourage smokers to quit, and provide information on how to quit.

Not all women who deliver a baby prematurely do so as a result of smoking, and not all mothers who smoke during pregnancy fail to carry to term. However, it’s important for women to know that smoking increases the risk for many problems with pregnancy and babies, including preterm birth, problems with the placenta that result in bleeding, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and that moms can reduce these risks by quitting smoking completely. State tobacco quitlines, which can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, have special services for pregnant smokers. SmokefreeWomen.govExternal also provides information and resources just for women, including pregnant women.

The Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®ads featuring people with heart disease are not intended to suggest that all heart-related medical conditions result from smoking, but instead they are intended to show the damage smoking can cause. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that tobacco smoking causes heart disease; approximately about one-fourth of adult heart disease deaths in the United States are caused by cigarette smoking. The former smokers featured in the ads, including those who developed heart disease as a result of smoking, are sharing their own stories in the hopes that their experiences can help others.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or nearly 1 in 5 deaths. However, the harmful effects of smoking are not limited to the smoker. Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year.

Although the primary target audience for the Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign is cigarette smokers, raising awareness about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers is also a campaign goal. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke exposure. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful to health.

Several Tips 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, stroke, and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Secondhand smoke also causes sickness and death in children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children who breathe secondhand smoke are also more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

Only 100% smokefree indoor environments can fully protect nonsmokers from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. Science shows that separate “no smoking” sections do not protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke—neither does ventilation, filtering the air, or opening a window.

More information about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure is available on CDC’s Secondhand Smoke page.

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 policies plus other helpful information about tobacco use in your state.

The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation also provides information on smokefree policies in your community. A list of communities with comprehensive smokefree policies in indoor public areas is available on the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation websiteExternal.

While it is true that some smokers do not die from smoking-related diseases, for every smoking-related death, at least 30 Americans live with a smoking-related illness. Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans every year, or nearly 1 in every 5 deaths. 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 from the harmful effects of smoking is to quit smoking completely.

There are several free resources to help smokers quit and stay smokefree.

Go online. Visit the How to Quit Smoking area featuring a Quit Guide and additional Quitting Resources. The Tips From Former Smokers® website is also available in Spanish, at

Call a quitline. A quitline provides free coaching over the phone to help you quit smoking. Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support. Coaching help is available in several languages:

Sign up for texts. Smokefree.govExternal offers free text messaging programsExternal that give 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to help you quit smoking for good. You can sign up or opt-out at any time.

Use an app. The quitSTART app is a free smartphone app that helps you quit smoking with tailored tips, inspiration, and challenges.

Campaign resources available on this website for smokers and nonsmokers include:

Other free campaign materials are available at CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® Download CenterExternal (available in English and Spanish). 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 harmful effects of secondhand smoke.