Effect of the First Federally Funded US Antismoking National Media Campaign

Study Questions:

Is a federally funded antismoking campaign an effective method for increasing smoking cessation rates?

Methods:

Survey data at baseline and follow-up (after the media campaign) from nationally representative cohorts of adult smokers and nonsmokers were used for the present study. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delivered a national, 3-month antismoking campaign called “Tips From Former Smokers” (Tips), which started in March 2012. The advertising was featured, depicting smoking-related suffering in real people. 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.

Results:

A total of 3,051 smokers and 2,220 nonsmokers completed baseline and follow-up assessments, of which 2,395 (78%) smokers and 1,632 (74%) nonsmokers recalled seeing at least one Tips advertisement on television during the 3-month campaign. Quit attempts among smokers rose from 31.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 30.3-31.9) at baseline to 34.8% (95% CI, 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 nonsmokers 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% (95% CI, 34.6-35.9), resulting in an estimated 4.7 million additional nonsmokers recommending cessation services and more than 6 million talking about the dangers of smoking.

Conclusions:

The authors concluded that 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.

Perspective:

Given the estimated 5 million deaths world-wide each year, media campaigns such as this one implemented by the CDC are needed. These, together with successful methods to assist in maintaining smoking abstinence, will result in significant reductions in morbidity and mortality related to smoking.

Keywords: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Television, Follow-Up Studies, Censuses, Cardiovascular Diseases, Tobacco Use Disorder, Smoking Cessation, Quality-Adjusted Life Years, United States


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