When gentle persuasion and supportive encouragement fail to get the people you love to quit smoking, try shocking, terrifying, and disgusting them — it worked for the US government.

The first federally funded anti-smoking ad campaign hit the airwaves in the spring of 2012, followed by a second round this past spring. The effort left sugar-coating and consideration for the sqeamish in the dust by featuring graphic images and stories about real ex-smokers who had suffered paralysis, stroke, lung removal, heart attacks and limb amputations.

It seems that as much as people may not want to see such things, they really, really don’t want to experience them. New data released by the Centers for Disease Control show that an estimated 1.6 million Americans tried to quit and at least 100,000 likely succeeded as a direct result of the campaign’s scare tactics. The study also found that during the campaign, the CDC’s national toll-free quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) got 132% more calls and its website (www.smokefree.gov) attracted 500,000 more visitors than usual.

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