The spending comes as the agency is facing a budget squeeze, but officials say the ads should more than pay for themselves by averting future medical costs to society. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It is responsible for the majority of the nation's lung cancer deaths and is a deadly factor in heart attacks and a variety of other illnesses.
Last year's similar $54 million campaign was the agency's first and largest national advertising effort. The government deemed it a success: The campaign triggered an increase of 200,000 calls to quit lines. The CDC believes that likely prompted tens of thousands of smokers to quit based on calculations that a certain percentage of callers do actually stop.
Like last year, the current 16-week campaign spotlights real people who were hurt and disfigured by smoking. Terrie Hall, 52, a throat cancer survivor, makes a repeat performance. She had her voice box removed about a dozen years ago.
In last year's ad there is a photo of her as a high school cheerleader. Then she is seen more recently putting on a wig, inserting false teeth and covering the hole in her neck with a scarf. It was, by far, the campaign's most popular spot, as judged by YouTube viewings and Web clicks.
In a new ad, Hall addresses the camera, speaking with the buzzing sound of her electrolarynx. She advises smokers to make a video of themselves now, reading a children's book or singing a lullaby. "I wish I had. The only voice my grandson's ever heard is this one," her electric voice growls.
The ads direct people to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.