THURSDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- National ads featuring people living with the effects of smoking-related diseases may have worked better at prompting smokers to kick the habit than expected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The "Tips From Former Smokers" ad campaign, which ran from March 19 through June 10, doubled the volume of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a hotline that links callers to the quit line in their state.
After just 12 weeks, the ads also drove 417,000 more people to smokefree.gov, the federal website designed to help people quit smoking, the CDC reported. The agency pointed out that this was triple the normal traffic to the site.
According to the CDC, the numbers indicate the ad campaign is on track to surpass the goal of getting at least 500,000 people to try to stop smoking.
"These initial results suggest that the campaign will help even more people quit than we had hoped, exceeding our already high expectations," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in an agency news release. "More than two-thirds of all smokers want to quit. People who smoke die sooner and live sicker. This campaign is saving lives and saving money."
Although smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, the CDC projected the ad campaign will result in about 50,000 smokers quitting successfully, leading to savings of roughly $70 million in medical and productivity costs.
Smoking-related diseases cost Americans $96 billion annually in direct health care costs, according to the news release. The CDC concluded that the $54 million ad campaign is important to counter the $10 billion the tobacco industry spends each year in marketing costs for their products.
The American Cancer Society provides tips on how to quit smoking.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, June 14, 2012
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