A government anti-tobacco ad campaign featuring graphic images helped 100,000 people quit smoking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week.
One ad showed a woman who lost her voice box to throat cancer, according to NBC News. Another ad shows a teen wearing an oxygen mask in the hospital after he suffers an asthma attack caused by secondhand smoke. A third features an Army veteran with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who says he is running out of time. In a fourth ad, a man who suffered a heart attack displays his surgery scar.
An estimated 1.6 million people tried to quit smoking after they saw the anti-smoking ad campaign, called “Tips,” the CDC said. Almost 80 percent of American smokers saw the 2012 campaign, according to the report, published in the Lancet.
The CDC sent questionnaires to 3,051 smokers and 2,220 non-smokers, asking them if they recalled having seen at least one Tips ad on television during the three months they aired. They found 78 percent of smokers and 74 percent of non-smokers remembered seeing at least one of the ads.
Before the campaign began, 31 percent of smokers said they had tried to quit for at least one day in the past three months. That rose to almost 35 percent after the campaign. Thirteen percent said they successfully quit. “This is exciting news. Quitting can be hard and I congratulate and celebrate with former smokers – this is the most important step you can take to a longer, healthier life,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H said in a news release. “I encourage anyone who tried to quit to keep trying – it may take several attempts to succeed.”
According to the CDC, half of smokers try to quit annually, but only 5 percent are successful.