The newest phase of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) graphic campaign to persuade America’s 42 million smokers to quit—”Tips from Former Smokers”—launches today, and it’s heart wrenching.
Since 2012, the campaign has featured real former smokers dealing with serious health problems spawned by their addiction, and this round is bound to make smokers and non-smokers alike squirm. It’s an especially graphic campaign from the CDC’s tobacco office, which has not shied away from bold, conversation-starting efforts to curb smoking.
Here’s an example: Shawn provides tips on how to live with a hole in your neck. Amanda, meanwhile, smoked during pregnancy and gave birth to her baby two months early.
Here are the newest ads, which the CDC provided early to TIME:
Amanda, a 30-year-old who smoked while pregnant. Her 3 lb daughter spent weeks in an incubator.
Brett, 49, who lost most of his teeth to gum disease by age 42. He takes out most of his teeth on camera.
Rose, 59, whose lung cancer resulted in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Shawn, 50, who breathes through the opening in his throat due to smoking-related throat cancer.
Brian, 45, whose smoking and HIV led to clogged blood vessels and resulted in a stroke.
Felicita, 54, who lost all of her teeth to gum disease by age 50.
Terrie, who died of cancer last September at age 53
Previously released ads ran earlier this year in February, and a CDC spokesperson told TIME that the “effort had immediate and strong impact.” During the last set of the ads’ nine-week run, they generated over 100,000 additional calls to the CDC’s quit line, 800-QUIT-NOW. On average, the CDC says weekly quitline calls were up 80% while the ads were on the air compared to the week before they began running. Preliminary estimates show there were nearly 650,000 unique visitors to the the agency’s website during those nine weeks.
The ads will be placed on cable TV, on radio, in print, on billboards, and in movie theater and online starting July 7. The CDC is also launching a social media campaign to support its tradition-media plays.
Of course, considering tobacco is a $100 billion market, and the industry continues to spend billions every year, the campaign is a drop in the pond. But it certainly stands out.
If you want to quit smoking, you can call l 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips.
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