Tough New Anti-Smoking Ads to Air in Connecticut, Nationwide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching its 2015 “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign with a series of powerful new ads featuring former smokers who suffer from smoking-related illnesses, including vision loss and colorectal cancer. Ads also highlight the benefits of quitting for smokers’ loved ones, and the importance of quitting cigarettes completely, not just cutting down. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. For every American who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more suffer at least one serious illness from smoking.

Beginning March 30, the ads will run for 20 weeks on television, radio, billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers. Connecticut is included in the national ad buy, which includes cable TV, magazine, and digital media, according to CDC officials. smoking3

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in 2013, 15.5 percent of Connecticut adults were smokers.  This was lower than the national average of 18.1 percent, and lower than the other New England states, which ranged from 16.2 percent (New Hampshire) to 20.2 percent (Maine).

CDC’s successful Tips national tobacco education campaign has helped prompt millions of smokers to try to quit since it began in 2012, officials said. It has also proven to be a “best buy” in public health by costing just $393 to save a year of life.

“These former smokers are helping save tens of thousands of lives by sharing their powerful stories of how smoking has affected them,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “These new real-life ads will help smokers quit, adding years to their lives and life to their years.”

In 2014, Tips ads had an immediate and strong impact. When the ads were on the air, about 80 percent more people called the national quitline, CDC officials noted, for free help. Since 2012, Tips ads have generated more than 500,000 additional calls to the toll-free quitline number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.CDC

Nationally, about 3 in 4 adult e-cigarette users also smoke cigarettes. If you only cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke by adding another tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, you still face serious health risks, according to CDC offcials. Smokers must quit smoking completely to fully protect their health -- even a few cigarettes a day are dangerous, they emphasize.

The agency website,, includes personal stories from the campaign.  The website also includes detailed assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute to support smokers trying to quit.

Besides the human cost, smoking takes a devastating toll on the nation’s economy, CDC officials point out. Those costs exceed $300 billion a year—nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.

The Tips campaign serves as an important counter to the more than $8.3 billion spent annually by the tobacco industry to make cigarettes more attractive and more affordable, particularly to young people, officials said.


CT Spending on Tobacco Prevention Goes Up in Smoke; E-Cigarettes Raise New Public Concerns

Fifteen years after the landmark state tobacco settlement in which Connecticut played a key role, the state now ranks 34th in the nationdown from 23rd a year ago - in funding programs to prevent youth from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report by a coalition of public health organizations.

In the current fiscal year, Connecticut is spending s $3 million on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 6.8 percent of the $43.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Connecticut include:

  • Connecticut this year will collect $466.1 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Connecticut is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • Connecticut has cut funding for tobacco prevention programs in half, from $6 million last year to the current $3 million; from 13.7 percent of the CDC recommended spending level down to 6.8 percent.
  • The tobacco companies spend $78.1 million a year to market their products in Connecticut. This is 26 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

The report comes as evidence increases that tobacco prevention anstate spending CTd cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.  One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

In Connecticut, 15.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 2,900 more kids become regular smokers each year, the organizations in the coalition pointed out. Tobacco annually claims 4,700 lives and costs the state $1.6 billion in health care bills, officials said.

"Connecticut once again is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco and needs to increase its investment in tobacco prevention," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs."

In 1997, when the settlement was announced, then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal - a key negotiator in the tobacco settlement talks – described the accord as “a sweeping public health initiative to protect children from the lure of tobacco, save lives, and reimburse states for billions of taxpayer dollars spent on tobacco-related illnesses.”

tobacco mapThe national report assesses whether the states have kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated to total $246 billion over the first 25 years – to fight tobacco use.  The states also collect billions more each year from tobacco taxes. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.  Nationally, about 18 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

The report reveals that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings of the report include:

The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

States are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels ftobacco free kidsor tobacco prevention programs.  Altogether, the states have budgeted just 13 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

Public Expresses Concern Over E-Cigarettes

Within days of the report on tobacco prevention efforts, a national survey reflected public concerns about a new and increasingly popular alternative to traditional cigarettes, called e-cigarettes.  Adults nationwide are concerned about the use of e-cigarettes by children and teens, with 44 percent indicating worries that the devices will encourage kids to use tobacco products, according to a new poll from the University of Michigan.

According to the latest University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, nearly half of parents are concerned their child will try e-cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that look like cigarettes but don't burn tobacco.  E-cigarettes have replaceable cartridges of liquid containing nicotine, which is inhaled as a vapor along with flavors like chocolate, fruit, candy or even tobacco.

"This poll shows high levels of concern about e-cigarettes and the possibility that kids who try them could start smoking tobacco," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

In the poll, which was administered in November 2013 to 2,124 adults age 18 and over, arguments were presented both for and against e-cigarettes.  Then adults were asked for their opinions about the devices and possible regulations and laws.

Advocates of e-cigarettes say they are a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking and argue it may help smokers to quit.  Critics counter that e-cigarettes may have health risks and may encourage people and kids or teens to smoke tobacco. Currently, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Twenty-six states have regulations prohibiting sale to minors; Michigan's legislature currently has bills pending that prohibit those sales.UniversityofMichigan

In the poll, 86% of adults said they have heard of e-cigarettes, while only 13% have ever tried one. Among parents, 48 percent said they are very or somewhat concerned that their children will try e-cigarettes.  Meanwhile, 65% of adults think e-cigarettes should have health warnings like tobacco cigarettes and nicotine products.

Adults also expressed widespread support for new laws regarding e-cigarettes: 88% think manufacturers should be required to test e-cigarettes for safety and 86% favor prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. 71% of adults support restricting the marketing of e-cigarettes on social networking sites.

"E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, with little information about safety or long-term health effects. However, the public is clearly aware of the devices and concerned about their impact, according to this month's poll results," says Davis, who is professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and professor of public policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "In 2010, the poll also asked about e-cigarettes and at that time only one-third of adults had heard of the product. In this poll, that number jumped to 86 percent."

Earlier this year, CT by the Numbers reported that state Attorney General George Jepson and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal were among those calling for regulation of e-cigarettes.

Health of Connecticut Drops Slightly as Disparities and Challenges Are Noticed

Connecticut is now the nation’s sixth healthiest state, dropping from number four in the previous year, according to state-by-state data compiled by the United Health Foundation in collaboration with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.  Among the findings about Connecticut highlighted in the report, America’s Health Rankings, which was compiled in 2012:

  • While Connecticut has one of the lowest smoking rates in the U.S., there are 475,000 adults who still smoke.
  • In the past 5 years, the high school graduation rate declined from 80.7 percent to 75.4 percent of incoming ninth graders who graduate in four years.
  • In the past 10 years, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 8.9 percent to 14.3 percent of persons under the age of 18.
  • In the past 5 years, public health funding increased from $57 to $71 per person.
  • In the past 5 years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations decreased from 67.3 to 60.4 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.
  • In the past year, the infant mortality rate decreased from 6.3 to 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.Connecticut State Health Rankings Inforgraphic

The state’s strengths, according to the report, include a low prevalence of smoking, low incidence of infectious disease, low rate of uninsured population and high immunization coverage.  Challenges facing Connecticut are the state’s moderate high school graduation rate and moderate levels of air pollution, the report noted.

Among the key health disparities highlighted from the Connecticut data, obesity is more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks at 41.4 percent than Hispanics at 28.6 percent and non-Hispanic whites at 21.0 percent; and sedentary lifestyle is more prevalent among Hispanics at 27.5 percent than non-Hispanic whites at 19.9 percent.

Overall, Connecticut has consistently ranked in the top 10 among the states since 1994. Vermont topped the list for the fourth consecutive year in 2012.  New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Hawaii were deemed healthier than Connecticut.  An interactive web-based 3D chart provides comparisons among the states.

The reports’ authors state that the “ultimate purpose of America’s Health Rankings® is to stimulate action by individuals, elected officials, medical professionals, public health professionals, employers, educators, and communities to improve the health of the population of the United States.”