Smokers' Horror Stories Help Others to Quit

By McCarton Ackerman 11/08/12

A graphic media campaign, "Tips From Former Smokers," prompts a huge increase in quitting.

An ad featuring Terrie, who lost her larynx
due to smoking.
Photo via

Despite controversy surrounding a recent anti-smoking campaign from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new numbers show the graphic ads seems be working. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign, which launched last March and ran until mid-June, featured roughly a dozen ex-smokers offering personal testimony on the devastating health consequences of their long-term tobacco use. Participants were featured in 30-second televised PSA's, radio commercials and web and print ads. "Everything that's happened to me has come from the fact that I smoked cigarettes," said campaign participant Terrie Hall, who developed throat cancer and had her larynx removed as a result of smoking. She now requires mechanical assistance to speak and breathes through an opening in her neck, which the videos frankly depicted. "That means that every day I have to put in my teeth, I have to put in a talking device in my neck, I have to wear a wig. That's how I get ready for my day." The national online portal had roughly 120,000 visitors to its site from March-June in 2011, but that number increased to 630,000 people during the same time frame of the campaign. That's a 428 percent jump overall. The CDC's 1-800-QUIT-NOW information line had 158,000 callers from March-June 2011, which rose 132 percent during the same time frame this year with 365,000 callers. "[We wanted to give] a voice and a strong sense of humanity to people who have been the victims," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Not helpless, pathetic victims, but people who want their stories told about what's been happening over the last 50 years, and who don't want to see this happen to anybody else."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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