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

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 start airing in late March 2020, will again highlight the immediate and long-term damage caused by smoking, and encourage people who smoke to quit.

In the United States, cigarette smoking prevalence is higher among people who serve in the military than among the civilian population. During 2010-2015, more than 1 in 5 (21.6%) veterans reported being current cigarette smokers. In comparison, in 2018, an estimated 13.7% (34.2 million) of all U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers.

CDC’s Tips campaign features two military veterans, Brian H. and Mark A. Brian started smoking at age 12. When he enlisted in the Air Force at age 19, he struggled with job stress and often smoked cigarettes in an effort to cope.

At age 35, Brian suffered a heart attack. He slowly regained his strength but kept smoking. “The moment I walked out of the hospital, I started sneaking cigarettes again,” Brian said.

Over the next several years, Brian had more heart surgeries, and he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Eventually, his doctor told him that his heart was so damaged that he would need a heart transplant. “I went from being able to travel the world to confining my life either at home or going to doctors…all because of cigarettes,” Brian said.

Brian quit smoking completely in 2009, and had a heart transplant in 2012. However, 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 is a Tips participant who 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, at age 42, he developed colorectal cancer.

“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.

Both Brian and Mark hope that by sharing their stories, they will inspire and encourage people who smoke to quit.

“Most people who smoke 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.”

CDC launched the first Tips campaign in 2012 to lower smoking rates and save lives. Results of a recent study show that from 2012–2018, CDC estimates that more than 16.4 million people who smoke have attempted to quit and approximately one million have successfully quit because of the Tips campaign.

Quitting Help

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

Active duty and retired service members and their families can access cessation counseling, cessation medicines, quitlines, and other services through TRICARE coverage and U.S. Department of Defense programs. Quitting help can also be found online at www.UCanQuit2.orgexternal icon.

For more information about the Tips campaign and resources for quitting smoking, visit



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