Nearly 5,000 Massachusetts residents called a quit-smoking phone line during a recently completed 12-week ad campaign that featured real people talking about the serious health problems they suffered from smoking, according to federal officials.
That was a 38 percent increase above the call volume the week before the campaign started, said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency sponsored the $54 million initiative, the first government-funded nationwide media blitz aimed at encouraging smokers to quit and preventing children from starting the habit.
Overall, the campaign generated almost 200,000 additional calls nationwide to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW “quitline,” the agency said, and more than 400,000 additional unique visitors to a federal website designed to help people stop smoking.
The CDC anticipates that some 50,000 smokers nationwide will overcome their addiction as a result of the ad campaign, resulting in an annual savings of approximately $70 million in medical and productivity costs.
“More than two thirds of all smokers want to quit,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director, said in a statement. “People who smoke die sooner and live sicker. This campaign is saving lives and money.”
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day, according to the CDC.
Each day, over 1,000 people under age 18 become daily smokers, the agency said, and smoking-related diseases cost this country $96 billion a year in direct health care expenses, a substantial portion of which come in the form of taxpayer-supported payments.
The CDC said its ad campaign was designed to counter the nearly $10 billion spent annually by the tobacco industry to make cigarettes more attractive and more available, particularly to young adults.