National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
April 17, 2012 • Volume 9 / Number 8

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CDC Update

Calls to Tobacco Quitline Hit Record High after Launch of National Ad Campaign

Smokefree.gov and 1-800-QUIT-NOW tile

Two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the Tips from Former Smokers campaign, calls to the national tobacco quitline number 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled, and visits to smokefree.gov more than quadrupled.

The number of calls rose from 14,437 between March 12 and March 18 to a record 34,413 between March 26 and April 1, the CDC reported. The ads were launched March 19 and will run for at least 12 weeks in a variety of national media platforms, including television, radio, billboards, online, theaters, magazines, and newspapers.

Previous experience from state and local media campaigns promoting quitlines shows that 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 and their loved ones. The ads focus on smoking-related lung and throat cancers, heart attack, stroke, asthma, and Buerger's disease, a rare condition affecting arteries and veins in the arms and legs.

The campaign also features suggestions from former smokers and reasons why people have quit. The ads are tagged with 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access support for quitting, or smokefree.gov, which provides free quitting information.

"Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "For every one person who dies from tobacco, 20 are disabled or disfigured or have a disease that is unpleasant, painful, [and/or] 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."

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 443,000 Americans each year. Cigarette smoking costs the nation $96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity each year.  In addition, more than 8 million Americans are living with smoking-related diseases, including cancer, and every day more than 1,000 youths younger than 18 become daily smokers

Nearly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit, and about half make a serious attempt to quit each year. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign can provide motivation, information, and resources to help.

Graph showing the number of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW between March 1 and April 8

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