WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s second 2013 "Tips From Former Smokers" campaign, which produced more than 150,000 additional calls to a central tobacco quitline and generated almost 2.8 million additional visitors to the campaign website. According to the CDC, these figures represent a 75 percent increase in call volume and a nearly 38-fold increase in unique website visitors, compared with the four weeks before the campaign began. The CDC also reported that average weekly calls fell by 41 percent, and website visitors fell by 96 percent during the four weeks after the campaign ended.
The “Tips” campaign was funded by the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Harkin authored as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Last week, the CDC announced that the 2012 “Tips” campaign far exceeded the campaign’s original goals of 500,000 quit attempts and 50,000 successful quits, according to a CDC study published in the Lancet medical journal.
“The CDC’s ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ campaign, supported by the ACA’s Prevention Fund, is making a real difference in motivating smokers to seek support to quit smoking,” Harkin said. “The cost to our public health and to our healthcare system from tobacco use is enormous. The Prevention Fund was designed to support evidence-based programs that make a real impact on our collective public health, and it’s clear that is exactly what the ‘Tips’ campaign is achieving.”
Harkin has championed preventive healthcare initiatives throughout his career, including increased access to screenings for breast cancer and other diseases, the school fruit and vegetable pilot program, menu labeling in restaurants, and tobacco control. In 1998, Harkin introduced the first comprehensive, bipartisan bill to give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. Harkin was an original cosponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which banned candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes and misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar." It also requires tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products and empowers the FDA to require changes in tobacco products.
As HELP Committee Chairman, Harkin authored the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act. Preventive initiatives in doctors’ offices and the community help rein in costs across the full health care spectrum. The prevention and public health measures of the health reform law create incentives to prevent chronic disease, and require health insurance companies to cover recommended preventive screenings with no copays or deductibles.
Since 2010, the Prevention and Public Health Fund has supported more than $200 million in tobacco prevention and control work, including the Tips Campaign and expanding quit phone lines. The FY 2014 Senate appropriations bill that funds health programs (S.1284), sponsored by Senator Harkin, allocates an additional $95 million from the Fund for CDC’s tobacco prevention and control work.