American Lung Association in New York Heralds CDC's "Tips from Former Smokers" Media Campaign

CDC Advertising Campaign a Necessary and Long Overdue Step to Reduce Smoking in the U.S.

(March 15, 2012)

The American Lung Association in New York commends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) "Tips from Former Smokers" media campaign and applauds the Obama Administration for its leadership on smoking cessation with this groundbreaking national media campaign on the health effects of tobacco use.

Last week's release of the 31st U.S. Surgeon General's Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, revealed that mass media campaigns are one of the most effective ways tobacco use can be reduced. These campaigns have the effect of prompting smokers to quit and discouraging youth from starting.

In 2005, New York's Tobacco Control Program released a series of aggressive, emotional and graphic messages which researchers say contributed to an 18 percent reduction in the state's adult smoking rate, compared with a 5 percent decrease nationally.

The CDC's hard-hitting media campaign profiles real people, including seven New Yorkers, who are living with smoking-related diseases, including amputations from Buerger's disease, throat cancer, stroke, heart attack and asthma. This ad campaign is a proven approach to encourage current smokers to quit and prevent America's youth and young adults from starting.

"We are extremely grateful to the individuals who are publicly sharing their stories of how smoking has devastated their lives so that others may learn from their experiences and, hopefully, avoid similar outcomes" said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast."Unfortunately, the stories told in these ads could be told by countless individuals across the country. This national media campaign is long overdue and will have a significant impact on reducing tobacco use."

The ads will air nationwide, primarily on television, but also via radio, print, online, and out of home placements. CDC is strategically increasing coverage of the ads in parts of the country with the highest number of smokers to maximize visibility and effectiveness among its target audience.

Every hour of every day, the tobacco industry spends $1 million on marketing. Meanwhile, states', including New York, are failing to adequately invest in proven policies and programs to counteract this rampant tobacco marketing. This has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers, a third of whom will ultimately die from their addiction.

"We applaud the federal government for investing in an education campaign against the nation's number one cause of preventable death," said Michael Seilback, VP of Public Policy and Communications at the American Lung Association in New York. "Comprehensive tobacco control requires solid commitments at the federal, state and local levels. Investment in tobacco control measures such as this not only saves lives, but also helps reduce healthcare costs."

Tobacco-related diseases are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 443,000 Americans, including more than 25,000 New Yorkers, 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 CDC's paid media campaign is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money the tobacco industry spends on product marketing targeted for kids and teens. The U.S. cannot afford not to air these ads, and the Lung Association stands in strong support of the ads, and ready to help anyone who wants to end their tobacco addiction.

This is the latest in a series of laudable steps taken by the Obama Administration to reduce tobacco use in the United States. President Obama signed the landmark Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products; raised the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 61 cents to fund children's health insurance; and dramatically expanded access to comprehensive tobacco cessation services through the Affordable Care Act and other initiatives.

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