Courage to quit

Don’t Butt Out: Tips™ for Helping Smokers

Talking to your patients about smoking cessation could help make their next cigarette their last.

Editor’s note: The AOA has partnered with the CDC to help raise awareness of the free quit-smoking resources the agency offers health care professionals.

Rebecca started smoking at age 16. At age 33, she was diagnosed with depression. As a smoker for many years, Rebecca turned to cigarettes to help her cope. When she tried to quit and couldn’t, she felt even more depressed and started smoking again. “That was just a vicious, vicious cycle,” she said.

Rebecca is one of several participants in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tips From Former Smokers™ (Tips™) campaign. The Tips campaign profiles real people who are living with serious long-term health effects from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.

The Tips From Former Smokers™ Campaign

For every person who dies because of smoking in the U.S., at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Tips, CDC’s national media campaign, aims to reduce these sobering statistics by giving a face of a real person to the millions of Americans who are living day in and day out with these consequences. Created in 2012, the Tips campaign continues to feature real people who have faced serious health consequences as a direct result of smoking. Tips was developed based on an in-depth review of research conducted in multiple U.S. states and other countries, as well as extensive campaign development research and testing.

When patients who smoke visit a health care provider for medical care, they may have already seen messages from the Tips campaign. In fact, among adult cigarette smokers who reported seeing a health care professional in the past six months, 85% recalled seeing a Tips ad (Office on Smoking and Health, CDC, Tips web-based cohort, unpublished data, April 2017 ). As a result, some patients may be thinking more than ever before about quitting smoking.

Why Tips™ Works

Scientific studies5;6 have shown that hard-hitting media campaigns are effective in helping people quit smoking. Study results suggest that emotionally evocative tobacco education media campaigns featuring graphic images of the health effects of smoking, such as Tips, can increase quitline calls and website visits, and that these campaigns’ effects decrease rapidly once they are discontinued.

Tips primary audiences include adult smokers ages 18 through 54, and secondary audiences include family members, health care providers, and faith communities.

How DOs Can Help

About 70%7 of current cigarette smokers want to quit. And with the extra motivation that the Tips campaign is providing, DOs may have more patients turning to them for cessation advice and support.

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Although health care providers support their patients’ cessation efforts, some don’t know how to discuss smoking cessation with their patients or don’t believe their advice will be welcome when patients see them for unrelated issues. So, discussions about cessation do not always happen.

Health care professionals can start a discussion about cessation with their patients using this printable tobacco intervention card. This resource provides a brief series of questions to help physicians assess their patient’s use of tobacco and readiness to quit.

The 5As of Tobacco Intervention:

  1. ASK: “Do you currently smoke or use other forms of tobacco?”
  2. ADVISE the patient to quit: “Quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health. I strongly encourage you to quit.
  3. ASSESS readiness to quit: “Are you interested in quitting tobacco?”
  4. ASSIST the patient in quitting. If the patient is ready to quit, provide brief counseling and medication (if appropriate). Refer patients to other supportive resources that can complement their care (e.g., quitlines,, SmokefreeTXT,, group counseling). For tips on how to offer brief counseling, visit: If the patient is not ready to quit, strongly encourage patients to consider quitting by using personalized motivational messages. Let them know you are there to help them when they are ready.
  5. ARRANGE for follow-up. Follow up regularly with patients who are trying to quit.

Because DOs have a vested interest in their patients’ health, they can have a positive impact on their patients’ lives. With the resources offered on CDC’s Tips website and the support of DOs, more smokers can quit smoking for good and enjoy longer and healthier lives.


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States. [accessed 2017 Apr 6].

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States. [accessed 2017 Apr 6].

3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States. [accessed 2017 Apr 6].

4American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. What is Osteopathic Medicine? [accessed 2017 Apr 6].

5McAfee, T., Davis, KC, Alexander, RL, Pechacek, TF, Bunnell, R. Effect of the First Federally Funded US Antismoking National Media Campaign. Lancet 2013; 382: 2003–11. [accessed 2017 Apr 6].

6Duke, JC, Davis, KC, Alexander, RL, MacMonegle, AJ, Fraze, JL, Rodes, RM, Beistle, DM. Impact of a U.S. Antismoking National Media Campaign on Beliefs, Cognitions and Quit Intentions. Health Educ Res (2015) 30 (3): 466-483. [accessed 2017 Apr 6]

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018) Quitting Smoking. [accessed 2017 April 6]

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