The "Become an EX" Smoking Cessation Campaign

Support for a public/private partnership to help American adults stop smoking

Field of Work: Smoking cessation public education campaign

Problem Synopsis: In 2000, 70 percent of U.S. smokers—who numbered 45 million—said they wanted to quit, and more than 40 percent made a quit attempt of at least one day. However, most smokers require 8 to 11 quit attempts, and only 5 percent succeed each year.

Synopsis of the Work: The American Legacy Foundation—created as part of the Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and state attorneys general—purchased television, radio, Web site and billboard ads to mount the “Become an Ex” campaign which ran from 2008 through 2010. The National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation, which included 18 state governments, six public health organizations and two foundations (including RWJF), funded the campaign.

In 2010, because many states could no longer afford to participate, the American Legacy Foundation worked with the Ad Council to transition the EX campaign from paid ads to public service announcements.

Key Results: Television, radio and online ads and media coverage of the “Become an EX” campaign focused on how to quit rather than why, and relied on a former smoker and an empathetic tone to encourage smokers to “relearn life without cigarettes.” EX ads ran during TV coverage of the American League Championship Series and World Series in October 2009, and American Legacy staff worked with NASCAR to promote the campaign to car-racing enthusiasts.