A new national campaign to educate the public about the health dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure has been launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
National ads, dubbed“Tips from a Former Smoker,” began airing on television March 19, 2012.
Besides increasing public awareness of the health dangers of smoking, the TV ads are designed to “help motivate smokers to quit, and encourage adults to actively protect their kids from secondhand smoke,” a HHS press statement said.
The new “hard-hitting” national campaign comes on the heels of a new report by the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, detailing how widespread youth tobacco use is, the health consequences and the influences that lead to lighting up for the first time.
Today, nearly one-in-four high school seniors and one-in-three young adults under age 26 use tobacco products, according to the report. The report also lays out proven strategies that can prevent its use.
Perhaps most striking, the new report details the scientific evidence on the addictive nature of nicotine. Statistics show 90 percent of adults who use tobacco started as kids.
Tobacco, the leading cause of preventable and premature death, kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year — 5 million globally. In the United States, cigarette smoking costs the nation $96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity annually, says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“In addition to the billions in medical costs and lost productivity, tobacco is enacting a heavy toll on young people ... Despite the well-known health risks, youth and adult smoking rates that had been dropping for many years have stalled. When this Administration took office, we decided that if these numbers were not changing, we had to do something. We accelerated our efforts to fight tobacco by helping Americans stop smoking and protecting young people from starting to smoke,” she said in the report.