Blog | Tuesday, September 10, 2013

QD: News Every Day--National anti-tobacco campaign may have worked, and well

The first nationwide mass market antismoking campaign may have partly contributed to more people quitting tobacco, a U.S. government-funded study suggested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign, a $54 million effort that ran for three months beginning in March 2012, used “emotionally evocative” TV ads that depicting smoking-related consequences. To assess the effects of the campaign, researchers conducted baseline and follow-up surveys of nationally representative cohorts of adult smokers and nonsmokers and applied rates of change in the cohort before and after the campaign to U.S. census data.

Results appeared online at The Lancet on Sept. 9.

There were 3,051 smokers and 2,220 non-smokers surveyed, with 2,395 (78%) smokers and 1,632 (74%) non-smokers who recalled seeing at least one campaign TV ad. Quit attempts among smokers rose from 31.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 30.3 to 31.9) at baseline to 34.8% (34.0 to 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 to 17.2).

When these numbers were extrapolated nationally, an estimated 1.64 million additional smokers made a quit attempt, and 220,000 (95% CI, 159,000 to 282,000) remained abstinent at follow-up. Researchers noted that more than 100,000 smokers likely became sustained quitters because of the campaign, possibly adding from 330,000 to 500,000 quality-adjusted life-years to the U.S. population.

Researchers noted that calls to a telephone quite line increased 132% during the campaign, representing more than 200,000 additional calls compared with the same period in the previous year, and more than 500,000 more unique visitors accessed the campaign’s website.

“Millions of non-smokers reported talking to smokers during the Tips campaign about the dangers of smoking, with many referring friends and family to cessation services,” researchers wrote. “Our results show the effectiveness and public health outcomes of a national campaign using hard-hitting messages delivered in emotional, graphic personal stories.”

Still, the authors continued, maintaining the campaign’s effect prompted the CDC to show new content from March 2013 through June 2013, and that the FDA will launch media campaigns in 2014 targeting children and young adults.

An accompanying editorial noted, “Although guidelines on smoking cessation have been developed in countries such as the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and China, competing demands, insufficient training, and reimbursement policies greatly constrain the ability of doctors to deliver an effective cessation message and treatment to smokers.”