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Tips™ Campaign Matte Article for American Indians/Alaska Natives

This prewritten matte article about the Tips From Former Smokers™ campaign is ready for adaptation and use by journalists, bloggers, and other members of the media and for organizations’ newsletters.

CDC's Tips From Former Smokers™ Campaign To Air Hard-Hitting Commercials Beginning January 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing its national tobacco education campaign—Tips From Former Smokers (Tips)—with hard-hitting TV commercials that feature real people who have experienced the harms caused by smoking. The campaign ads, which will air beginning January 2017, will again highlight the immediate and long-term damage caused by smoking, and encourage smokers to quit.

Cigarette smoking is more common among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) adults than most other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Although cigarette smoking prevalence in the general population has declined in recent years, prevalence among the AI/AN population remains high. In 2015, more than 1 in 4 (21.9%) AI/AN adults in the United States smoked cigarettes, compared with more than 1 in 6 (15.1%) U.S. adults overall. The prevalence of cigarette smoking was about 1 in 5 (or 19.0%) among AI/AN men and about 1 in 4 (or 24.0%) among AI/AN women.

Michael and Nathan, both Native Americans, are featured in the CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign. Michael, a member of the Tlingit tribe in Alaska, tried his first cigarette at the age of 9 and was addicted to cigarettes for most of his adult life. At age 44, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but ignored the symptoms until age 52 when he awoke one day gasping for air. He quit smoking that day. Since then, Michael has had part of his lungs removed to make breathing easier. Michael now needs a lung transplant. In 2008, his doctor gave him 5 years to live, which is why he is called a ghost walker by some people in his tribe.

Nathan, a Native American and member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, had never smoked cigarettes. Nathan used to be active and athletic, and he loved to participate in tribal dance competitions. For 11 years, he worked at a casino that allowed smoking. The exposure to secondhand smoke triggered asthma attacks and caused him to develop serious infections that eventually led to permanent lung damage called bronchiectasis. “The casino was filled with smoke from so many people smoking," he said. Breathing in other people's smoke on a daily basis made his health so bad that he felt he had to leave that job.

Both Michael and Nathan hoped that by sharing their stories they could help other AI/AN smokers to quit. Sadly, Nathan’s lung damage led to his death in October 2013. He was 54.

CDC launched the first Tips campaign in 2012 to lower smoking rates and save lives, and the campaign has been very successful since then. Results of a CDC study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, show that in 2012 an estimated 1.64 million smokers tried to quit during the 2012 campaign period, and about 100,000 of them quit for good. After the launch of the nine-week long 2014 campaign, 1.83 million smokers attempted to quit smoking and an estimated 104,000 quit smoking for good.

"Most smokers want to quit. They don’t want to suffer or be a burden on their families," said Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, MPH, director of 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 (1-800-784-8669).

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