The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national health organisation in the USA, has launched “Tips from Former Smokers”, a mass media advertising campaign designed to educate the public about the harmful effects of smoking and to encourage quitting. The campaign features real people who have experienced a variety of illnesses stemming from tobacco use, including cancer, heart attack, stroke, asthma, and Buerger’s disease. The ads not only show the toll that these smoking-related illnesses have taken on these individuals’ lives—e.g., losing one’s natural voice, experiencing paralysis, having a lung removed or limbs amputated, but they also provide encouragement to quit and information on how to access free help.
The “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign provides a unique and compelling perspective on the significant damage smoking causes to individuals—a perspective not often captured in statistics about the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the illnesses caused by tobacco. None of the individuals featured in the ads are actors. They are real people who used to smoke and became sick as a result. Most of them were diagnosed with smoking-related illnesses when they were relatively young—many in their 30s and 40s; one was only 18. They speak from experience, and all have volunteered to share their stories to send a single, powerful message: Quit smoking now. Or better yet—don’t start.
The Anthem ad features three people who have stomas as a result of their smoking. They provide tips on how to live with this condition. Click on the image below to play the Anthem ad in YouTube (HD)
Terrie talks about how she gets ready for the day after the effects of treatments for throat cancer caused her to lose her teeth and hair, and to have a tracheotomy. Click on the image below to play Terrie’s Ad in YouTube (HD)
Jessica, a mother with a young son who suffers from asthma attacks due to secondhand smoke exposure, urges people not to be shy to tell people not to smoke around kids. Click on the image below to play the Jessica’s Asthma video in YouTube (HD)
Three people, who successfully quit smoking after many years, hare their practical tips on how to quit for good. Each tip, such as throwing away their cigarettes and ashtrays, exercising, identifying a strong reason to quit, and “just keep trying,” has been shown to help. Click on the image below to play the How to Quit video in YouTube (HD)
Shane, from Wisconsin, was only in his 30s when he developed cancer of the esophagus and had to have his larynx removed. Brandon, a young man from North Dakota, had both his legs amputated in his early 20s as a result of Buerger’s disease, a condition that cuts off blood flow primarily to the hands and feet and is strongly linked to cigarette smoking. Suzy, one of the women featured in the ads, is partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke caused by smoking and is dependent on caregivers, one of whom is her 23-year-old son. These and other stories in the “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign provide stark evidence of how damage from smoking can impact quality of life—for the rest of one’s life. The people featured in this campaign showed incredible courage and commitment when telling their story, and all shared a common goal of inspiring and motivating others to take steps to quit smoking.
All of the ads contain a very clear and encouraging message to smokers that they CAN quit and that free resources are available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or accessing www.smokefree.gov.
The campaign ads will run nationally for 12 weeks beginning Monday, March 19, and include television, radio, billboard, magazine, newspaper, theater, and online placements. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other channels will help spread the campaign’s messages more broadly, particularly among younger audiences.