Remember those chilling anti-smoking ads that ran this spring? Seems they did the trick.
The CDC reported Thursday that the number of calls to a national quit-smoking hotline and visits to a companion Web site increased dramatically during the 12-week period this spring when that agency’s graphic anti-smoking ad campaign was in place.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC noted that the quit-smoking hotline received 365,194 calls during the three months beginning March 19, 2012, when the campaign was launched; during the same period in 2012, the line received 157,675 calls. That’s a 132-percent increase. Moreover, a Web site offering advice and information for people wishing to quit smoking received 629,898 unique visits during the campaign period compared to 119,327 during that time in 2011 – an increase of 428 percent.
The ad campaign – Tips from Former Smokers – featured people whose health had been severely compromised by their smoking: a young man whose legs had been amputated, a middle-aged woman paralyzed by a smoking-induced stroke, a man who had his larynx removed, a woman who’d lost a lung. In addition to serving as warnings of the dangers of continued smoking, the ads encouraged people to call the quit line or visit the Web site for help kicking the habit.
An editorial accompanying the report says, “Quitlines significantly increase rates of smoking cessation, compared with minimal interventions, self-help, or no counseling.” The national quit-line, which feeds calls to quit lines in individual states, is supported by the National Cancer Institute and the CDC. The Web site is administered by the NCI.
Tips from Former Smokers, described by the CDC as “the first federally funded, nationwide, paid-media tobacco education campaign in the United States,” cost $54 million – the equivalent, the editorial notes, of what cigarette manufacturers spend on advertising and promotion in two days.
Were you among the thousands who called the quit line or visited the smoking cessation Web site after seeing a Tips from Former Smokers ad? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.
The quitline number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW; the Web site is www.smokefree.gov.