Online Program

Tips From Former Smokers: A Hard-Hitting Mass-Media Campaign that has Motivated Millions to Quit

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Diane Beistle, BA, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Issue: Despite great progress in tobacco control, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults currently smoke cigarettes, and an estimated 58 million Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke.  Half of smokers attempt to quit each year, but only 5% are successful in staying smoke-free one year later. More than 480,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related illnesses. 


Description: To reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the first federally-funded, national tobacco education campaign in 2012. Based on research and lessons from other campaigns, a hard-hitting health consequences approach was chosen, featuring stories of real former smokers who had quit after suffering serious smoking-related health consequences.  Evaluation methods included a national survey of cigarette smokers and nonsmokers, an analysis of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, and a cost-effectiveness analysis.


Lessons Learned

  • An estimated 1.6 million U.S. smokers attempted to quit smoking as a result of seeing Tips, with 100,000 of these smokers staying quit for 6 months or longer.
  • Increased use of the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline and the website during the campaign.
  • Low-cost health investment: The Tips campaign spent approximately $480 per smoker who quit, $390 per year of life saved, $270 per year of healthy life gained, and $2,820 per premature death prevented, easily surpassing accepted minimum standards of cost-effectiveness.


Recommendations: Results of the Tips campaign add to the evidence base that indicates graphic, emotional media campaigns that use a health consequences approach can effectively and efficiently motivate smokers to quit.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe Tips from Former Smokers campaign approaches. Identify mass media campaign evaluation methods. Compare testimonial ad campaign model for other public health issues.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: for the past five years I have overseen the development, implementation, and evaluation of the first national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.