New CDC Ads Demonstrate Physical Toll of Smoking, Including Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ad campaign this summer will use real-life tales of serious health conditions tied to smoking, including gum disease and tooth loss, to encourage people to quit lighting up.

The series of new ads is part of the CDC's 2014 Tips from Former Smokers campaign, set to launch July 7 across various media. In the ads, people from many walks of life share stories of how smoking has left them in some way debilitated or disfigured.

The experiences of campaign participants and former smokers Brett, 49, and Felicita, 54, reflect the dental aspects of smoking. The two share how they lost all or most of their teeth to gum disease in one of two Spanish-language ads set to run on national Spanish media channels. Ads in the series also focus on other health conditions tied to smoking, including throat and oral cancers and preterm births in pregnant women.

Existing Tips ads ran earlier this year for nine weeks and generated more than 100,000 additional calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support, the CDC reported. Weekly quitline calls were up an average of 80 percent while the ads were on the air compared to the week before they began running. Preliminary estimates show there were nearly 650,000 unique visitors to the Tips website during those nine weeks.

As in previous CDC anti-smoking campaigns, the 2014 ads encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or to visit to view the former smokers' startling personal stories. The website also includes detailed assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute to support smokers trying to quit.

More than 16 million Americans live with smoking-related diseases, according to the CDC. About 480,000 Americans succumb to smoking-related diseases each year, deaths that are preventable. In fact, says the CDC, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

For more information about the campaign, including profiles of the former smokers featured, links to the ads and other campaign resources, visit For information on smoking, tobacco, gum disease and oral cancers, visit, the ADA's consumer website.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7