New "Tips From Former Smokers" ads offer graphic reality check

Screen shot from a "Tips From Former Smokers" ad warning of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy.


Want to quit smoking? These tips from former smokers may inspire you to finally kick the habit -- at least, that's the hope of public health officials behind the new ad campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be rolling out the series of graphic anti-smoking ads starting on July 7.

"Tips From Former Smokers," a nine-week, national multimedia campaign, will include ads across radio, TV, newspapers, Web sites and theaters. There will also be ads in Spanish.

"These new ads are powerful. They highlight illnesses and suffering caused by smoking that people don't commonly associate with cigarette use," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news release. "Smokers have told us these ads help them quit by showing what it's like to live every day with disability and disfigurement from smoking."

Smoking kills about 480,000 people in the U.S. annually, according to the CDC.

The ads feature former smokers who have suffered severe health issues as result of years of smoking.

One of the ads features Shawn, 50, who breathes through an opening in his throat as a result of smoking-related throat cancer. In the video he talks about what that means for a person's life.

"When you have a hole in your neck, don't face the shower head," Shawn says in the video. "Be very careful shaving. Get used to eating only soft foods."

Another video features Amanda, a 30-year-old who smoked while she was pregnant. Her baby spent weeks in an incubator.

"My name is Amanda and I smoked while I was pregnant. My baby was born two months early and weighed only three pounds. This is the view I had of her in the NICU," Amanda says, as a photo of her looking at her baby in the incubator is shown. "My tip to you is speaking into the opening so your baby can hear you better."

"Amanda's powerful story brings to life some of the health problems smoking during pregnancy can cause for unborn children," Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health said. "The best time to quit smoking is before you get pregnant, but quitting any time during pregnancy can help your baby get a better start on life."

At least 1 in 10 women smoke during their last trimester of pregnancy, according to the 2014 Surgeon General's report.

Other ads include smokers who have lost their teeth to gum disease and those who were diagnosed with cancer.

Smokers are encouraged to call the toll-free number 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit for additional support.