Effect of the first federally funded US antismoking national media campaign

Lancet. 2013 Dec 14;382(9909):2003-11. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61686-4. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


Background: Every year, smoking kills more than 5 million people globally, including 440,000 people in the USA, where the long-term decline in smoking prevalence has slowed. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delivered a national, 3-month antismoking campaign called Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) that started in March, 2012, in which hard-hitting, emotionally evocative television advertising was featured, depicting smoking-related suffering in real people. We aimed to assess the effects of the Tips campaign.

Methods: We undertook baseline and follow-up surveys of nationally representative cohorts of adult smokers and non-smokers. The national effect of the Tips campaign was estimated by applying rates of change in the cohort before and after the campaign to US census data.

Findings: 3051 smokers and 2220 non-smokers completed baseline and follow-up assessments. 2395 (78%) smokers and 1632 (74%) non-smokers recalled seeing at least one Tips advertisement on television during the 3-month campaign. Quit attempts among smokers rose from 31.1% (95% CI 30.3-31.9) at baseline to 34.8% (34.0-35.7) at follow-up, a 12% relative increase. The prevalence of abstinence at follow-up among smokers who made a quit attempt was 13.4% (95% CI 9.7-17.2). Nationally, an estimated 1.64 million additional smokers made a quit attempt, and 220,000 (95% CI 159,000-282,000) remained abstinent at follow-up. Recommendations by non-smokers to quit grew from 2.6% at baseline to 5.1% at follow-up, and the prevalence of people talking with friends and family about the dangers of smoking rose from 31.9% (95% CI 31.3-32.5) to 35.2% (34.6-35.9), resulting in an estimated 4.7 million additional non-smokers recommending cessation services and more than 6 million talking about the dangers of smoking.

Interpretation: The high-exposure Tips media campaign was effective at increasing population-level quit attempts. The growth in smokers who quit and became sustained quitters could have added from a third to almost half a million quality-adjusted life-years to the US population. Expanded implementation of similar campaigns globally could accelerate progress on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and reduce smoking prevalence globally.

Funding: CDC, US Department of Health and Human Services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising
  • Aged
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult