CDC Anti-Smoking Ads Directed at Military, People With Mental Health Conditions

The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) newest anti-smoking ads target current and former members of the military and people with mental health conditions, Bloomberg Business reports. The ads will run in areas with the highest smoking rates, including parts of Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and West Virginia.

Current service members and veterans are more likely than the general population to smoke, while three in 10 cigarettes are smoked by someone with mental illness, according to the CDC. The ads will start running on January 25, on TV, print, radio, online and outdoor for 20 weeks.

One ad features an Air Force veteran who smoked heavily starting at a young age, and suffered a heart attack when he was in his 30s. Another ad shows a woman who smoked while she dealt with anxiety and depression. The ad shows what her mouth looked like after she lost teeth due to gum disease.

The ads are the latest installment of the CDC’s “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, launched in 2012. In December 2014, the CDC said the campaign cost just $480 per smoker who quit and $393 per year of life saved. The 2012 anti-tobacco ad campaign, which featured graphic images, helped 100,000 people quit smoking, the CDC said.

The new campaign costs $70 million. In contrast, the biggest three tobacco companies, Reynolds, Lorillard, and Altria, spent a combined $257 million on advertising in 2014, the article notes. While ads for regular cigarettes are banned from TV, companies are advertising e-cigarettes on television.

CDC Director Tom Frieden says the anti-smoking ads are helping combat tobacco company messages. “We went as a society from where a polite thing would be to say, ‘Would you like a cigarette?’ to where the polite thing was, ‘Would you mind if I smoke?’ to where you wouldn’t even ask that,” he said. “That’s a huge shift in how we view smoking as a society.”

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