CDC's stop smoking ad campaign results in a sharp spike in quit attempts

ATLANTA — Sales of smoking-cessation products may realize a March boom following a recent government advertising campaign that encourages Americans to quit smoking.

One week following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's launch of its Tips from Former Smokers campaign, calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline were up 130.4%, the agency reported Monday. Calls were up an additional 3.5% in the subsequent week.

A record 34,413 calls were fielded between March 26 and April 1, the CDC reported.

“Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking,” CDC director Thomas Frieden said. “For every one person who dies from tobacco, 20 are disabled or disfigured or have a disease that is unpleasant, painful [and] expensive. There is sound evidence that supports these ads — and, based on the increase in calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, we’re on our way to helping more smokers quit.”

The ads were launched March 19 and will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online and in theaters, magazines and newspapers nationwide. Previous experience from state and local media campaigns promoting quitlines shows at least five to six smokers try to quit on their own for every one person who calls a quitline.

The campaign features compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities, and the toll smoking-related illnesses take on smokers. The ads focus on smoking-related lung and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, asthma and Buerger’s disease, a rare condition affecting arm and leg arteries and veins.

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