Fighting Fire with Fire to Reduce Smoking

(March 15, 2012)

What do you do when someone spends $1 million an hour on marketing to entice young people to try a deadly, highly addictive product? You fight fire with fire! That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing with its hard-hitting new media campaign to convince people to quit, or better yet, never try smoking.

The CDC has launched a major new media campaign “Tips from Former Smokers” to drive home the message about the disastrous health effects of tobacco use. The campaign pulls no punches, as it profiles real people who are living with smoking-related diseases, including amputations from Buerger’s disease, throat cancer, stroke, heart attack and asthma.

“We applaud these individuals for publicly sharing how smoking has shattered their lives so that others may learn from their tragic experiences,” said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO. “This campaign is long overdue, is powerful and will have a significant impact on reducing tobacco use.”

Ad campaigns like this are proven to be effective at encouraging current smokers to quit and prevent America’s youth from starting, a fact highlighted in the report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, recently released by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Every hour of every day, the tobacco industry spends $1 million on marketing. Meanwhile, states’ failure to invest in proven policies and programs has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers, a third of whom will ultimately die from their addiction. To reverse this trend, the CDC’s ads will air nationwide, across a wide variety of media, including television, radio, print and online, with the heaviest concentration in areas with the highest smoking rates.

Smoking’s terrible toll on America’s health makes the need for such an aggressive campaign clear. Tobacco-related diseases are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 443,000 each year. Smoking alone costs the U.S. economy $193 billion dollars every year, $96 billion in direct health care costs and $97 billion in lost productivity.

The Lung Association has been successfully helping smokers quit for more than 30 years with our Freedom From Smoking program. In addition, our Not-On-Tobacco® (N-O-T) program is designed for smokers aged 14 to 19 who want to quit and is America’s most popular smoking cessation program for teens. If you need assistance with quitting smoking or have additional questions about lung health, please call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252.