ATLANTA (UPI) — The U.S. government will combat smoking addiction for the first time in a public-service campaign health officials say they hope will help people quit smoking.
The campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scheduled to begin Monday, has a $54 million budget this year, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. tobacco industry spends at least that much in an average two days of promotional efforts, the newspaper said.
CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden told the newspaper that the TV and newspaper campaign will save lives and money.
“We estimate that this campaign will help about 50,000 smokers to quit smoking,” he said. “And that will translate not only into thousands who will not die from smoking, but it will pay for itself in a few years in reduced health costs.”
The ads are to show former smokers discussing the health consequences of their habits, the CDC said.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. spokesman David Howard told the Times he would not comment on the government’s campaign, not having seen it.
“We believe that adult tobacco consumers should be provided with accurate information about the risks associated with tobacco use,” he said.
R.J. Reynolds, the No. 2 U.S. tobacco company, is part of a group of tobacco makers suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over rules that would require cigarette companies to put graphic warning labels over much of their packaging.
A Federal judge in Washington ruled two weeks ago the rules unConstitutionally violated the companies’ free-speech rights. The government is appealing.
Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 443,000 Americans each year, Federal estimates cited by the Times indicate.
More than 8 million Americans are afflicted with smoking-related disease.