Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Center for Disease Control Director Tom Friedman (not the economist) have announced the "Tips From Former Smokers" advertising campaign. The campaign is the first paid, full-scale effort by the CDC to stop the increase of smokers in the United States.
During a live press conference announcing the campaign efforts, Secretary Sebelius highlighted the goals of the campaign, and why this campaign is needed. She said that tobacco kills 443,000 Americans a year, and for every one person that dies from smoking, two new smokers take their place. Also, the secretary stated that close to 70% of all smokers in America want to quit. Because of addiction, and the $10 billion dollars of marketing they say that the tobacco industry spends, it's difficult for people to quit. This campaign is a small part of the healthcare reform that the Administration has been working on over the past couple of years. Sebelius hopes that this campaign helps 500,000 people quit smoking, between the ages of 12 and 75. Sebelius also believes that with the people quitting, the campaign will help save healthcare costs of $170 million over three years.
The ads are based on real people, and their more-than-real stories about the effects and dangers of smoking. During the press conference, we heard from three of the principal subjects of the campaign. All of them started smoking when they were teens. Brandon discussed his Buerger's Disease, which eventually resulted in both of his lower legs being amputated. Roosevelt came next, and talked about his five heart attacks and an open-heart surgery that required six bypasses. Last was Terrie, who spoke briefly about her condition. Her ad is below:
CDC's Friedman noted that "these ads are hard to watch." But he also referred to a study that he did that suggested that the hard-hitting ads and the amount of people quitting had a positive correlation. They hope that ads like Terri's will send people to smokefree.gov and the 1-800-Quit-Now hotline for people to get the help they need.
You can find the rest of the videos here. The Surgeon General also had remarks on the latest report, which told the country about the increase in smoking in teenagers.
Telling your loved ones to stop doing something that is killing them is a tough conversation to have. To tell your citizens that they are killing themselves is not a fun conversation, either. Will this advertising campaign work? Who knows.
The HHS and CDC have paid for most of its spots for the campaign, but hope to receive three dollars' worth of ad space for every dollar they spend.