The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marks its fifth year of ads featuring real people who are living with the effects of smoking-related diseases. The newest ads in the Tips from Former Smokers campaign tell the story of how real people’s lives were changed forever due to their smoking.
Over 30 people have offered their voice and story to the Tips campaign since 2012. Each real story represents millions of Americans suffering from similar illnesses caused by smoking. One such story highlights Becky, 54, who lives with COPD.
Becky started smoking as a teenager in 1976 to fit in with her peers. After attending college in Ohio, Becky attended law school to pursue her dream of working as a public defender. For the next several years, Becky experienced spells of bronchitis and a persistent cough. Despite warnings from her doctors, she could not quit smoking. “I just didn’t want to hear it,” said Becky. At age 45, she was diagnosed with COPD.
One day in 2012 Becky found herself completely breathless. She called 911 in a panic and was immediately given oxygen when the ambulance arrived. Becky soon learned that she would require a lung transplant and have to quit her job.
“I wasn’t expecting any of this. That absolutely floored me. I just didn’t see it coming,” Becky said. “I finally put cigarettes down for good when it became obvious to me that the dang things were really going to kill me. They had already stolen so much from me; I was not going to let them kill me outright,” she said.
“All the Tips ad participants are heroes,” said Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, MPH, Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By courageously sharing their painful personal stories, they’re inspiring millions of Americans to make the life-saving decision to quit smoking.”
The Tips ads also highlight the benefits of quitting for loved ones, and the importance of quitting cigarettes completely, not just cutting down. They encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT NOW, a toll-free number to access free quitting support across the country, or visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/ to view the personal stories from the campaign and for free help quitting. For more information on the campaign, including profiles of the former smokers, links to the ads, and free quit help, visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/.
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