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By Corinne Graffunder, PhD, (Director of the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing its national tobacco education campaign—Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®)—with hard-hitting TV commercials that feature real people who have experienced the harms caused by smoking. The 2018 campaign ads are again highlighting the immediate and long-term damage caused by smoking, and strongly encouraging smokers to quit.
The American Psychological Association (APA) is one of a cadre of national organizations partnering with the Tips® campaign. For the third year in a row, the APA’s Health Disparities Office is sharing Tips® resources and videos as part of its efforts to improve health outcomes in some of the country’s populations experiencing the greatest disparities.
Real People, Real Stories
In March 2012, the CDC launched the first-ever paid national tobacco education campaign—Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®). The Tips campaign profiles real people who are living with serious long-term health effects from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
Since its launch, Tips has featured compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities and the toll these conditions have taken on them. This approach works – results of a CDC study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, show that in 2012 an estimated 1.64 million smokers tried to quit during the 2012 campaign period, and about 100,000 of them quit for good. During 2012-2015, CDC estimates that millions of Americans have tried to quit smoking cigarettes because of the campaign, and at least half a million have quit for good.
Disparities in Tobacco Use and Health Outcomes
As heartening as those figures are, there is still much work to be done. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. About 480,000 U.S. deaths per year are caused by cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
Research has also demonstrated that certain populations are more likely to use tobacco products than others. A study by the CDC found that in 2016, the prevalence of cigarette smoking was higher among adults who were:
- aged 25–64 years,
- American Indian/Alaska Native or multiracial,
- had a General Education Development (GED) certificate,
- lived below the federal poverty level,
- lived in the Midwest or South,
- were uninsured or insured through Medicaid,
- had a disability/limitation,
- were lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or
- had serious psychological distress.
It is vital that individuals from these populations get access to resources to help them live smoke-free.
Smoking in the American Indian/Alaska Native Population
Some American Indians use traditional tobacco for ceremonial, religious, or medicinal purposes. For this reason, it is important to make the distinction between traditional tobacco use and commercial tobacco use, such as cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is more common among American Indians/Alaska Natives than almost any other racial/ethnic group in the United States. Overall, nearly 1 in 3 (31.8%) individuals with American Indian/Alaska Native heritage smokes cigarettes.
If you are an American Indian or Alaska Native, you likely know someone with health problems from cigarette smoking—possibly a member of your family with a smoker’s cough who is struggling to breathe or a friend with lung cancer. American Indians/Alaska Natives have a higher risk of experiencing tobacco-related disease and death due to the high prevalence of cigarette smoking and other commercial tobacco use.
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among American Indians/Alaska Natives
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among American Indians/Alaska Natives.
- Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among American Indians/Alaska Natives. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for smokers than nonsmokers.
Smoking in your community increases the chances of:
- Losing members of your tribe to smoking-related illnesses.
- Losing elders to smoking-related diseases or exposure to secondhand smoke before they can hand down tribal customs and traditions.
Nathan, a Native American man and a Tips® campaign ad participant, told his story in hopes of effectively communicating the risks of smoking and the harsh reality of the health problems that can occur. Nathan, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, had never smoked cigarettes. Nathan used to be active and athletic, and he loved to participate in tribal dance competitions. For 11 years, he worked at a casino that allowed smoking. The exposure to secondhand smoke triggered asthma attacks and caused him to develop serious infections that eventually led to permanent lung damage called bronchiectasis. “The casino was filled with smoke from so many people smoking,” he said. Breathing in other people’s smoke on a daily basis made his health so bad that he felt he had to leave that job. Nathan hoped that by sharing his story he could help other AI/AN smokers to quit. Sadly, Nathan’s lung damage led to his death in October 2013. He was only 54.
Watch Nathan’s video’s here.
What can you do?
- Watch the videos in the CDC Tips campaign: The Tips campaign includes videos about individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and health problems due to smoking or second-hand smoke.
- Visit the Tips website: CDC has also developed materials to help a wide array of populations learn how smoking may adversely affect their health and longevity, as well as offering individuals help to quit smoking.
- Check out APA’s Resources: The APA Health Disparities Office shares smoking cessation resources for behavioral health professionals to help patients quit smoking.
- Download the free mobile app: APA SmokeScreen app offers resources on tobacco-related health disparities among underserved populations. The app provides comprehensive population profiles, evidence-based practices, screening interventions and additional resources for health professionals.
For more information about the Tips® campaign and resources for quitting smoking, visit CDC.gov/tips. For help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Related CDC Links:
- Quitting information for African Americans
- Quitting information for American Indians/Alaska Natives
- Quitting information for Asian Americans
- Quitting information for Hispanics/Latinos
In Asian languages:
Dr. Corinne Graffunder is Director of the Office on Smoking and Health within the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She is responsible for providing broad leadership and direction for all scientific, policy, and programmatic issues related to tobacco control and prevention.
Prior to her current position she served as the Deputy Associate Director for Policy in CDC’s Office of the Director, working to strengthen collaboration between public health, health care, and other sectors to advance CDC’s population health priorities. She has more than 25 years of experience with national, state, and local prevention efforts and working with the US Surgeon General and National Prevention Council, led the development of the first ever National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness.
Since joining CDC in 1987, she has held leadership positions in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, working on a range of health issues including tobacco control, cancer prevention and control, and violence prevention. She received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina and her Masters of Public Health and Bachelors of Science from the University of South Carolina.