CDC Reports Graphic PSAs Are Working


The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that calls to their QuitLine demonstrate a new series of graphic PSAs are doing their job.

Last month, the agency put out public service announcements to air on television that show the results of smoking. They feature real people who calmly talk about their lives and the damage smoking has done to them. The ads do not shy away from the graphic details. One has a lady getting ready to start her day by inserting an artificial voice box into the hole in her throat, another has a man who had limbs amputated as a result of smoking.

The ads drew controversy because of the content – a kind of driver’s education style, no-holds-barred look at some of the consequences of tobacco use. The CDC now shows the ads are generating interest among those who want to quit. The QuitLine is a service of the agency that offers tips and access to local resources for those wishing to stop tobacco use. The phone number is 1-800-QUITNOW. This, along with their stop smoking website: is featured in the PSAs.

Calls to the QuitLine do not tell us how many people are actually able to fight off active addiction to tobacco, but they do show the ads are reaching the target audience. The ads also highlight the less-known consequences of tobacco use. Most smokers understand the risk of cancer, but many do not know about the serious and disabling consequences other than lung cancer.

According to the Director of the CDC, “Although they may be tough to watch, the ads show people living with real, painful consequences from smoking. 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.”


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