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.
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