CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Work Highlights Smoking Cessation

January 9, 2015

MMWR News Synopsis for December 18, 2014


Smoking Cessation Among Users of Telephone and Web-Based Interventions — Four States, 2011–2012


Tobacco cessation services are available for free in every state. Smokers who use these services better their odds of successfully quitting smoking. Smoking causes 480,000 deaths a year in the United States. All states offer access to telephone or web based tobacco cessation services, and these services are freely available to people who want to quit smoking. Using these services, and in particular, using both services in combination, increases the chances of quitting successfully. States can help a greater number of people quit smoking by offering both telephone and web-based tobacco cessation services instead of offering only one.


Tetrodotoxin Poisoning Outbreak from Imported Dried Puffer Fish — Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2014

Health care providers who work in emergency departments or with persons from countries with a tradition of puffer fish consumption should be aware of the potential public health threat of puffer fish poisoning and should coordinate with their local poison centers and health departments to investigate any suspected cases. Puffer fish is a highly regulated product in the U.S. due to its potential toxicity yet is a delicacy in many cultures. Health care providers who work in emergency departments or with persons from countries with a tradition of puffer fish consumption should be aware of this potential public health threat and coordinate with their local poison centers and health departments to investigate any suspected cases of puffer fish poisoning to determine the source of the fish, whether it was legally imported, and whether additional contaminated product needs to be removed from commerce.


Perceptions of the Risk for Ebola and Health Facility Use Among Pregnant and Lactating Women and Community Health Workers — Kenema District, Sierra Leone, September 2014


During a complex humanitarian crisis such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, it is critical to consider the impact of the crisis on the delivery of routine health services and on health care seeking among vulnerable populations. Fear and misconceptions of Ebola were found to contribute to decreased health facility use in focus group discussions with health workers and pregnant and lactating women in Kenema District, Sierra Leone. In a country with the highest ratio of maternal deaths and fourth highest rate of newborn deaths in the world, use of routine maternal and newborn health care is essential to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes. Infection prevention and control trainings were found to reduce fear among health care workers and may be an important strategy to increase women’s confidence in health facility safety. This information is being used to create messaging to encourage use of maternal and newborn health care services across Sierra Leone.


Notes from the Field:


Aseptic Meningitis Outbreak Associated with Echovirus 30 Among High School Football Players — Los Angeles County, California, 2014



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New Studies Detail the High Costs of Smoking in America, and the Comparitive Bargain of Convincing People to Quit

December 11, 2014

Two new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the health care costs of smoking are even higher than previously estimated, and that the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers mass media campaign has been extremely cost-effective at getting smokers to quit.

Together these studies demonstrate that tobacco use is needlessly bankrupting our health care system despite the availability of proven, cost-effective measures that are not being fully utilized. While the United States has greatly reduced smoking, tobacco use continues to take a huge health and financial toll on the nation that policy makers cannot ignore.

The studies on healthcare costs and on the media campaign were published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The first study finds that smoking costs our nation about $170 billion a year in health care spending – 8.7 percent of all health care spending in the U.S. This is up from an estimate of at least $132.5 billion included in the 2014 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco released in January. More than 60 percent of these costs are paid by taxpayers through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. These findings show that smoking imposes a cost on all taxpayers and reducing tobacco use is a critical part of bringing down health care spending in the U.S.

The second study shows that in its first year (2012), the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign helped 100,000 smokers to quit and saved about 17,000 people from a premature death. The campaign, with a modest budget of $48 million, spent only $480 per smoker who quit and $393 per year of life saved. These costs are far below the benchmark of $50,000 per year of life saved that is a commonly accepted threshold for measuring cost-effectiveness of public health interventions, study authors write.

These studies show that investing in programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart and fiscally responsible thing to do.  It saves lives AND money. We urge Congress to ensure that campaigns like Tips from Former Smokers are continued and expanded.

Tips, which continued in 2013 and this year, is the first federally-funded national media campaign to reduce tobacco use. It has been highly effective despite being on the air for only about 12 weeks a year and spending just a fraction of the $8.8 billion a year, or $1 million per hour, the tobacco industry spends to market its deadly and addictive products. The 2014 Surgeon General’s report called for conducting national mass media campaigns “at a high frequency level and exposure for 12 months a year for a decade or more.”

The states must also increase funding for proven tobacco prevention and cessation programs, including media campaigns. The states collect over $25 billion a year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but spend less than two percent of it on these programs, falling far short of CDC recommendations. The states must increase their tobacco prevention and cessation efforts because the bill is just getting larger. (On Thursday, December 11, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups will release our annual report on state funding of tobacco prevention programs.)

There is growing evidence that tobacco prevention and cessation programs deliver a strong return on investment. A 2011 study in theAmerican Journal of Public Health found that Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every$1 spent during the first 10 years of its program.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 Americans every year. Despite our progress, 17.8 percent of U.S. adults and 15.7 percent of high school students still smoke. Without urgent action now, 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. The studies today remind us that this is an entirely winnable battle and that the cost of failing to do so is far too high.

Logo –

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids


One hour of hookah is as bad for you as 100 cigarettes

December 10, 2014



Lots of college students hugely underestimate the risk of smoking hookah, a new federal report shows.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new data about 500 undergrad and graduate students at the University of South Florida, on their views on and uses of the increasingly popular waterpipe.

They discovered that more than half of the students (54.4 percent) had smoked hookah — also known as shisha —  at some point in their lives, and 16 percent had used hookah recently, in the past 30 days. This squares with a broader trend the CDC has documented: that young people in this country are increasingly using hookah along with other non-cigarette tobacco products, like e-cigarettes.

But the most unsettling part of the study was the utter lack of awareness about harms related to hookah: more than half of the students thought smoking from a waterpipe is less dangerous than cigarette smoking and 13 percent thought hookah wasn’t harmful at all.

What is hookah?

Before we get into the harms, let’s look at how hookah works: it is essentially a tobacco delivery device that cools and filters smoke through water.

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CDC’s 2016 Tips Campaign Recruitment

September 16, 2014


We are beginning our ad participant recruitment efforts for the 2016 Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign and would greatly appreciate your help to broadly share this information. Similar to previous Tips campaigns, we are conducting a national search to identify people who experienced smoking-related health problems and are willing to share their compelling stories.


We have developed the following 2016 Tips campaign recruitment materials and tools we hope you will find useful:


  • A letter signed by me with detailed information about our recruitment criteria
  • A sample e-mail for use by you and your colleagues (attached)
  • Two sample newsletter articles (attached)
  • Social media materials
    • Two Facebook images and sample posts and tweets (attached)
    • Both high- and low-resolution recruitment buttons and banners (attached) that your organization and partners can place on your respective Web sites
  • Links to recruitment flyers for the various conditions we are recruiting for, all of which are listed below


For more information, please visit the 2016 Tips recruitment Web site at



Timothy McAfee, MD, MPH

Director, Office on Smoking and Health

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Recruitment Letter from Dr. McAfee

Tips 2016 Sample Recruitment Partner Email

Tips 2016 Recruitment Partner Newsletter

Tips 2016 Social Media Content

Recruitment Banner low res

Recruitment Banner high res


CDC Releases New Ads About Smoking’s Harm

July 8, 2014



Dear Colleague,

The Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign resumes today, July 7th, with powerful new ads that feature seven people whose lives have been permanently affected by smoking. You can see these ads today at


The new ads focus on severe gum disease with tooth loss; lung cancer; head and neck cancer; preterm birth; and the health effects of smoking combined with HIV.

Information About the July Ad Buy

  • Beginning July 7th, the ads will run nationwide for 9 weeks on television, radio,billboards, online media, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Ad participants include:

o   Felicita and Brett, smokers who each started losing teeth to gum disease by age 40.CDC2

o   Amanda, a young mother who smoked during pregnancy and gave birth 2 months early.

o   Rose, who nearly lost a foot because of clogged blood vessels, then learned she had lung cancer, which later spread to
her brain.

o   Shawn, who developed throat cancer and lost his larynx.

o   Brian, who was in good health and managing his HIV when smoking led to a stroke.

o   Terrie, who has appeared in previous Tips campaigns, and shares a plea about quitting.

  • Two Spanish-language ads will run on national Spanish media channels. One features Rose, who has lung cancer, while a second features Felicita and Brett, who both lost teeth after smoking.


Resources and Promotion

o   Bios and additional interviews of the ad participants

o   Overviews of the health conditions featured in the campaign

o   Spanish-language content

o   “I’m Ready to Quit” practical tips for quitting smoking

o   Web badges and buttons to post on your site to link readers to the compelling personal stories on the Tips Web site

o   Prewritten matte articles that you can tailor for your newsletter, blog, or Web site

o   Printable Tips ads to hang in your workplace

  • Free materialsare available at the Tips From Former Smokers Download Center: include low-resolution TV ads; radio, online, print, and out-of-home ads; and public service announcements.


  • CDC’s Media Campaign Resource Center (MCRC) at offers broadcast-quality Tips ads and other tobacco counter-marketing ads for paid campaigns.


  • Faith leaders, public health advocates, health care providers, and other partners can find materials to answer questions about Tips ads—and guidance on how to start a conversation about quitting.

o partner pages offer posters, FAQs about quitlines, fact sheets for patients, a pocket-sized brief intervention card for office visits, a quick reference guide on treating tobacco dependence, and much more.

If you have additional questions about the 2014 Tips campaign, please contact



CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health


May 6, 2014
By KAREN KAPLAN, Los Angeles Times
With e-cigarettes, “I see the industry getting another generation of our kids addicted,” @DrFriedenCDC says.

Of all the threats to Americans’ health — a list that includes bird flu, measles and West Nile virus — few get Dr. Tom Frieden as riled up as electronic cigarettes.

As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Frieden has a ready-made platform for spreading his views about the dangers of vaping. During a visit to the Los Angeles Times on Monday, we asked him why he is so passionate about e-cigarettes.

“I’ve treated so many adults who are desperate — desperate — to get off tobacco. They all started as kids,” Frieden said. “I see the industry getting another generation of our kids addicted. To me, as a physician, when 1.78 million of our high school kids have tried an e-cigarette and a lot of them are using them regularly … that’s like watching someone harm hundreds of thousands of children.”

In addition, he said, “people have a misconception that the tobacco epidemic is a thing of the past. Tobacco still kills more Americans than any other cause. It still kills more than 1,000 people a day. As a doctor, I can tell you it kills them in really unpleasant ways — gasping for breath with emphysema, with cancer, with heart disease.”

What does that have to do with e-cigarettes?

“E-cigarettes are a tobacco product,” he said.

Actually, the battery-operated devices do not burn tobacco. Instead, as my colleague Monte Morin reported, they “heat nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerin into a vapor, which is inhaled by the user.”

[Updated at 5:46 p.m. PDT April 29: The nicotine burned in an e-cigarette may be extracted from a tobacco plant, according to the Food and Drug Administration.]

Still, Frieden rattled off five reasons why e-cigarettes are as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes:

–“If they get another generation of kids more hooked on nicotine and more likely to smoke cigarettes, that’s more harm than good,” he said.

–“If they get smokers who would have quit to keep smoking instead of quitting, more harm than good.

–“If they get ex-smokers who have been off nicotine to go back on nicotine and then back to cigarettes, more harm than good.

–“If they get people who want to quit smoking and would have taken medicines to think e-cigarettes are going to help, but they don’t, more harm than good.

–“If they re-glamorize smoking, it’s more harm than good.”

Frieden acknowledged that “stick to stick, they’re almost certainly less toxic than cigarettes” and that many people have quit smoking tobacco cigarettes with the help of e-cigarettes. However, he said, “the plural of anecdote is not data.”

“If the e-cigarette companies want to market these to help people quit, then do the clinical trials and apply to the FDA,” he said, in a reference to the Food and Drug Administration. “But they don’t want to do that. They want to market them widely.”

Just last week, the FDA announced it would begin regulating electronic cigarettes by forbidding sales to minors and requiring manufacturers to include health warnings on the devices. Frieden called those moves “a good first step.”

“The challenge that the FDA has is that they will be challenged by the tobacco industry, as they have been at every step of the way,” he said. The federal agency “tried to regulate e-cigarettes earlier, and they lost to the tobacco industry. … So the FDA has to balance moving quickly with moving in a way that’s going to be able to survive the tobacco industry’s highly paid legal challenge.”

If you’re interested in the latest news about science and medicine, you like the things I write about. Follow me on Twitter and “like” Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.

Click Here to Read the Article at LA Times

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2015 CDC Tips Campaign Recruitment

April 8, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health is recruiting additional candidates to be considered for an upcoming national education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers (Tips). Similar to previous campaigns seen here, real people who have had life-changing, smoking-related health problems will be featured. We are conducting a national search to find people with compelling stories who are willing to participate in our campaign.

I am writing to ask for your assistance to help identify individuals who fit our recruitment criteria (listed below) and who may be interested in participating in the Tips campaign. A representative from Mimi Webb Miller Casting will be contacting you soon on behalf of CDC. We hope you will be willing to share any referrals you might have. You can be assured that we will treat all applicants with dignity, respect, and sensitivity.

We are seeking people from all backgrounds, and are particularly looking for candidates who are of Asian descent. All applicants must be tobacco-free for at least 6 months.

We are looking for ex-smokers who:


  • Have or have had colorectal cancer that was linked to cigarette smoking (ages 30–65).
  • Have or have had macular degeneration that was linked to cigarette smoking (ages 40–65).
  • Used cigars with cigarettes orused cigarillos or little cigars with or without cigarettes, thinking cigars, cigarillos and little cigars were healthier than cigarettes and developed a serious health condition while smoking (ages 20-60).
  • Used e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco for at least a year while continuing to smoke some cigarettes; and
  • Thought using e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to cut back on some cigarettes would be good for your health; and
  • Despite cutting back, you were later diagnosed with a serious health condition.


All individuals should be comfortable sharing their story publicly and be able to articulate how their smoking-related condition has changed their life. The association between smoking and their condition must be clear, and candidates’ physicians will be contacted to verify that smoking contributed to the condition.

We are asking you to help distribute this flyer. Please feel free to email it to anyone who might be willing to help CDC recruit for this campaign. The flyer can be posted in public areas or shared with anyone who may know people who fit the criteria above.

If you have questions, please send them to our CDC representative, Crystal Bruce,  Please put “Recruitment Question” in the subject line.



Timothy McAfee, MD, MPH

Director, Office on Smoking and Health

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion