Every spring, state and territorial quit lines—a mainstay of tobacco use reduction efforts—get a spike in calls. The bump comes from the annual Tips from Former Smokers campaign, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative that tells gripping stories of people who suffer with life-altering conditions because of smoking.
But last spring was different. Hard-hitting Tips ads encouraging smokers to call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW, the national quit line portal, began on March 23, 2020, as the country went into pandemic lockdown. Even as the CDC separately warned that smokers could be at greater risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, the emotional stories didn’t have their usual impact.
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