Government’s Ad Campaign Convinced 100,000 Smokers to Kick the Habit

CDC says results exceeded expectations

The government's stop smoking advertising campaign convinced more than 200,000 Americans to kick the habit at last, of which about 100,000 will quit permanently, according to data released Monday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC's Tips from Former Smokers campaign created by Arnold Worldwide ran three months last year from March 19 to June 10 featuring testimonials from former smokers facing grueling health consequences as a result of their habit. It was the first time a federal agency developed and placed paid ads for a national tobacco education campaign.

Almost 80 percent of smokers and 75 percent of nonsmokers recalled seeing at least one of the ads that drove people to call the toll-free number 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit a quit-assistance website.

The CDC said the results—gathered via a survey of thousands of adult smokers and nonsmokers before and after the campaign—exceeded the campaign's original goals of 500,000 attempts to quit and 50,000 successful quits.

“Hard-hitting campaigns like ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ are great investments in public health,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC office on smoking and health, and lead author of the study.  “This study shows that we save a year of life for less than $200. That makes it one of the most cost-effective prevention efforts.”

The $54 million campaign was paid for by the Affordable Care Act's prevention and public health fund. Plans are underway for a new campaign 2014.