CDC's provocative anti-smoking ad campaign shows success, study says

Smoking can raise your insurance rates, but that doesn't mean you'll get coverage for help with quitting.

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A nationwide anti-smoking campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may have encouraged tens of thousands of Americans to kick the habit and more than a million more to at least give it a shot, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

The initiative - which is the first mass media anti-smoking effort funded by the federal government - is called the  “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign

The straight-talking ads pull no punches as they show real people sharing the health consequences caused by their smoking - including  throat cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

 “Smoking gave me COPD, which makes it harder and harder for me to breathe," says a man identified as Michael, 57, of Alaska.  "I have a tip for you: if your doctor gives you five years to live, spend it talking with your grandchildren. Explain to them that their grandpa’s not going to be around anymore to share his wisdom and his love. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I’m running out of time." 

A study in this month’s edition of the medical journal The Lancet estimates the campaign’s first set of ads  – which ran for 12 weeks in the spring of 2012 –helped to persuade more than 100,000 Americans to quit smoking, and prompted another 1.6 million to try to do so.

The study was based on surveys with more than 3,000 smokers; it said the ads were effective even accounting for a variety of other factors that might influence people’s decision to quit smoking.

The CDC ran a new set of ads for 12 more weeks this past spring, and has them available for viewing online.

The “Tips” campaign was funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is a part of the Affordable Care Act. 

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