Since launching the Tips from Former Smokers campaign 2 weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has seen a two-fold increase in calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline.

Call volume rose from 14,437 calls for the period Monday, March 12-Sunday, March 18, to 33,262 calls for the period Monday, March 19-Sunday, March 25, and a record 34,413 calls for the period Monday, March 26-Sunday, April 1, the CDC reported. The ads were launched March 19 and will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.

Previous experience from state and local media campaigns promoting quitlines shows at least five to six smokers try to quit on their own for every one person who calls a quitline.

The campaign features stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities and the toll smoking-related illnesses take on smokers and their loved ones. The ads focus on smoking-related lung and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, asthma, and Buerger’s disease, a rare condition affecting arm and leg arteries and veins. The campaign features suggestions from former smokers on how to get dressed when you have a stoma (a surgical opening in the neck) or artificial limbs, what scars from heart surgery look like, and reasons why people have quit. The ads are tagged with 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or the Web site, which provides free quitting information. A three-fold increase in total visits to the Web site was observed in the first week of the campaign.

“Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking,” said Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the CDC. “For every one person who dies from tobacco, twenty are disabled or disfigured or have a disease that is unpleasant, painful, expensive. There is sound evidence that supports these ads – and, based on the increase in calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, we’re on our way to helping more smokers quit.”

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention