According to a study published in the Lancet earlier this month, a graphic three-month anti-smoking campaign prompted more than 200,000 U.S. smokers to quit in 2012. Half of them are expected to quit permanently.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which launched the campaign and conducted the study, these results far exceeded the campaign’s goals of 500,000 quit attempts and 50,000 successful quits.
The initiative, called “Tips From Former Smokers,” was the first federally funded national multi-media education campaign aimed at tobacco cessation. “Tips” presents the stories of real people who suffer from the complications of smoking-related diseases. One powerful video features an oral cancer survivor who now must rely on an artificial voice box in order to speak.
Financial support for the $54 million initiative was provided by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a creation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, authored the Prevention and Public Health title of the ACA.
“The ‘Tips’ campaign is proof that the Prevention Fund is saving both lives and money,” Sen. Harkin said in a press release.
The law created this “mandatory” fund to ensure a sustained national investment in public health initiatives, but subsequent legislation reduced the size of the fund by $6.25 billion over nine years.
According to the CDC, smoking kills 440,000 Americans each year and costs $96 billion in direct health care expenses alone. The lead author of the “Tips” campaign study, Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, said in a press release, “This study shows that we save a year of life for less than $200. That makes it one of the most cost-effective prevention efforts.”
The CDC released a new series of “Tips” ads in 2013 and plans to do so again in 2014.