Tips From Former Smokers campaign persuades many to quit

Watching an ad of former smoker Terrie Hall speaking with an artificial voice box prompted Lisha Hancock’s 5-year-old son to turn and ask her whether she would sound like that someday.

“Thanks to the campaign, I can look my son in the eyes and say that Mommy doesn’t smoke any more,” Hancock said as she broke in sobs. She was among 100,000 smokers who quit long term after viewing a video featuring Hall and others as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign, the agency announced Monday.

According to research being published in The Lancet, the campaign prompted 1.6 million smokers to try to quit, at least 200,000 did quit and at least 100,000 of those will quit permanently, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said.

“That’s more than twice what our ambitious hope was of 50,000 sustained quits,” he said.

Hancock, of Elizabethtown, Ky., had smoked for 17 years and had tried to quit before but gave it up for good in February after seeing the ads with Hall, who had her larynx removed because of throat cancer.

“That scared me,” Hancock said. “I could see myself in her shoes had I continued to smoke.”

For her part, Hall said she was gratified by the response.

“When the Tips From Former Smokers campaign first started, I said if we can get just one person to quit smoking, or just one person to never start, that would be a success,” Hall said. “I never imagined it would reach so many people and change so many lives. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

“Lisha’s story makes me proud to be a part of this campaign. She is an example of what I tell everyone: the best way to quit is to keep trying.”

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