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Report: TIPS Anti-Tobacco Campaign is Working

The CDC says its TIPS anti-smoking campaign, launched in 2014 to get people to talk to each other about their smoking-related illnesses, has been a success. (Virginia Carter)
The CDC says its TIPS anti-smoking campaign, launched in 2014 to get people to talk to each other about their smoking-related illnesses, has been a success. (Virginia Carter)
March 25, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – While Maryland's smoking rate is slightly lower than the national average, anti-tobacco advocates say it still needs to come down, especially with teenagers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its efforts to get more people to stop smoking are working.

A new report shows more than 1.8 million smokers attempted to quit as a result of the nine-week 2014 "TIPS" campaign, and an estimated 104,000 Americans quit smoking for good because of it.

TIPS features former smokers speaking frankly about their tobacco-related illnesses.

Dr. Greg Jantz, an addiction counselor, says sharing stories between smokers can be a powerful treatment, but he believes more emphasis needs to be placed on the harm smokers are doing to others, not just themselves.

"Some people don't realize the power of secondhand smoke, you know – 'Well, I don't see the smoke,'" says Jantz. "No, it's there, and people who live with smokers and breathe secondhand smoke – their kids, most of them, start smoking."

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says almost 12 percent of Maryland's high school students smoke, with 3,500 new teens a day picking up a cigarette. The national high school smoking rate is 15.7 percent.

Jantz says with young people, it really is "monkey see, monkey do."

"We teach our kids to smoke because that's the environment they live in," he says. "We've got to address that, and it's not about 'guilting' you and telling you how horrible you are because you smoke."

The CDC says smoking-related diseases cost the United States more than $300 billion a year, and says the TIPS campaign is an important counter measure to the $1 million the tobacco industry spends each hour on cigarette advertising and promotion.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD