Aug. 27 (UPI) — More than 1 million American adults quit smoking between 2012 and 2018 after seeing messages from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, according to figures released Wednesday by the agency.
Those who saw public service announcements, or PSAs, created through the initiative were nearly 20% more likely than others to attempt smoking cessation, the data showed.
Up to 40% of smokers attempted to quit after seeing the PSAs, while roughly one-third of smokers who didn’t see the messaging attempted to quit during the seven-year periods they aired on television and elsewhere, the agency researchers said.
The findings were published by the CDC’s electronic, peer-reviewed journal, Preventing Chronic Diseases.
“This study reinforces that mass media campaigns can increase quits and quit attempts as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing smoking-related disease and premature death in the United States,” Rebecca Murphy-Hoefer, lead evaluator of the CDC campaign, told UPI.
“Research shows that emotionally evocative, evidence-based campaigns are effective in raising awareness about the dangers of smoking and encouraging people who smoke to quit,” she said.
The CDC launched the national Tips From Former Smokers — or Tips — campaign in 2012 to encourage smokers to quit by showing real-life heath consequences of tobacco use and promoting evidence-based resources for quitting.
The campaign aired PSAs featuring former smokers and their families on television, as well as online and in print publications.
“Decades of research have demonstrated that more tailored … promotional messaging will always be more successful than approaches that are less tailored, personalized or relevant to the audience,” a spokeswoman for the Truth Initiative, another well-known smoking cessation campaign, told UPI.
“Storytelling and personal narratives are widely regarded as compelling and powerful ways of engaging audiences, [so] it seems natural that testimonials from former smokers could be a meaningful way to persuade others to quit,” she said.
Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers say they want to quit, and more than half make a serious quit attempt each year, according to the Truth Initiative.
Although tobacco use has declined in the United States over the past 40 years, more than 30 million Americans still smoke, the CDC estimates, and recent research shows that as many as one in four teens use e-cigarettes.
To assess the the Tips campaign, Murphy-Hoefer and her colleagues with the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health surveyed nearly 10,000 adults who were current and former smokers. Participants were asked about their smoking history and knowledge of the Tips campaign, the researchers said.
Based on participants’ exposure to the campaign, it served as the impetus behind more than 16 million quit attempts nationwide between 2012 and 2018, the data showed.
In the end, the campaign helped inspire 1,005,419 adults nationally to successfully quit smoking during the same period, the researchers said.