A three-month ad campaign called "Tips From Former Smokers" that ran last year caused about 100,000 people to permanently quit smoking, according to estimates by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday.
The CDC arrived at those numbers by surveying 3,051 smokers before and after the anti-smoking ad campaign. About 80 percent of those smokers remembered having seen one of the anti-smoking commercials on TV.
The CDC's report, published in medical journal The Lancet, said that there was a relative 12 percent increase in smokers' attempts to quit after the campaign, meaning that an estimated 1.6 million smokers in the U.S. had tried to quit, and that about 220,000 would still be abstinent after the commercials had run their course. However, because many smokers relapse after trying to quit, particularly in the first week, the CDC estimates that 100,000 people would successfully quit smoking in the long term.
The government agency's report also said the public service announcements may have caused people to suggest their friends and family stop smoking. The report estimated that recommendations made by non-smokers to quit cigarettes doubled shortly after the commercials had stopped running on network TV.
“Hard-hitting campaigns like ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ are great investments in public health,” CDC Office on Smoking and Health Director Tim McAfee, who was the lead author of the study, said in a statement. “This study shows that we save a year of life for less than $200. That makes it one of the most cost-effective prevention efforts.”
The ads were funded by the Affordable Care Act and featured powerful personal stories from former smokers, many of whom have come down with debilitating diseases and cancers as a result of their addictions, including some who'd lost fingers and limbs or had their larynxes removed.
"Even when I was diagnosed with cancer I still proceeded to smoke. During radiation treatments I'm still smoking because I'm that addicted," says a man referred to only as Shawn in a particularly moving example. "It wasn't until they took out my voice box and I breathed through a hole in my neck that I finally quit."
WATCH: Suzy, who had a stroke because of smoking, needs help with many things, even going to the bathroom. "Enjoy your independence now," she says.