Tips® Campaign Matte Article for Military Service Members and Vets

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.

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

Like many young military members, Brian, who is featured in the 2018 Tips® campaign, was a smoker. “Smoking had been ingrained into me. It was part of who I was,” he recalled. Cigarette smoking is more common among active duty military service members and veterans. During 2010-2015, more than 1 in 5 (21.6%) active duty military service members were current cigarette smokers.1 In comparison, in 2016, an estimated 15.5% (nearly 38 million) of all U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers.2 By featuring an Air Force Veteran in the 2018 Tips television ads, CDC is encouraging all active duty military members and veterans to quit for good.

Brian enlisted in the Air Force in 1972 and spent part of his military service in Europe with his young family. He finally quit smoking at age 53, but not before suffering a heart attack and eventually needing a heart transplant. He says, “I went from being able to travel the world to confining my life either at home or going to doctors…all because of cigarettes.” The support from Brian’s family gave him the strength he needed to keep living and stop smoking for good in 2009. While Brian remained smokefree, the damage caused by years of smoking continued to affect his body. In January 2017, Brian was diagnosed with lung cancer and had part of his lung removed.

Mark, another ad participant who served in the military, was featured in the 2015 Tips campaign. He joined the Air Force at age 19. He smoked cigarettes and used smokeless tobacco through two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. In 2009, he developed colorectal cancer at age 42. Colorectal cancers are more common in people who smoke than in nonsmokers.3 “Everything just—it came to a grinding halt,” said Mark. “I literally looked at this tumor on the monitor and realized, ‘I have cancer. I could die!’”  He was able to quit, and today, Mark has been cancer free for more than 6 years.

While tobacco use takes a huge toll on all users, it is especially damaging for active duty military members. Using tobacco reduces a soldier’s physical fitness and endurance.4 Military members who use tobacco are more likely to drop out of basic training, suffer injuries, and have poor vision, all of which affect troop readiness.4

A large number of smokers in the military want to quit. That’s another reason why 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 negative health effects caused by smoking. The Tips campaign ads explain the immediate and long-term damage smoking can do to the body.

CDC launched the first Tips campaign in 2012 to lower smoking rates and save lives. Results of a CDC study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, indicate that an estimated 1.64 million smokers tried to quit during the 2012 campaign period, and about 100,000 quit for good.5

“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.”

Both Brian and Mark hope that by sharing their stories, they will inspire and encourage smokers in the military and veterans to quit. Brian now says, “Every day is a gift to spend time with my wife and grandkids.” Mark hopes his story will inspire others to quit as soon as possible, especially young people.

Quitting Help

For quitting help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support.

Active duty and veterans, you and your families can access cessation counseling, cessation medicines, quitlines, and other services through your TRICARE coverage and Department of Defense programs by calling 1-877-TRICARE (1-877-874-2273). You can also find quitting help online at External

Veterans receiving health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs can access the VA quitline at 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838).


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Military Veterans—United States, 2010–2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2018;67(1):7–12 [accessed 2018 Jan 24].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 20158;67(2):53-9 [accessed 2018 Jan 24].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. 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, 2010 [accessed 2018 Jan 24].
  4. Institute of Medicine. Combating Tobacco in Military and Veteran PopulationsExternal. Washington: The National Academies Press, 2009 [accessed 2018 Jan 24].
  5. McAfee T, Davis KC, Alexander RL, Pechacek TF, Bunnel R. Effect of the First Federally Funded US Antismoking National Media CampaignExternal. The Lancet 2013;382(9909):2003–11 [accessed 2018 Jan 24].