The woman who starred in the highly-effective anti-smoking ads put out by the Centers for Disease Control died of cancer on Tuesday at 53 years old.
Terrie Hall faced a long, uphill health battle from smoking. She first was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, and continued smoking throughout many of her health struggles. But in 2012, Hall began participating in the “Tips from Former Smokers” ads by the CDC — a program funded largley by Obamacare.
The CDC’s videos of her captured Hall telling her own story about being a smoker. In one video, she advised smokers, “make a video of yourself before all this happens. Read your children a storybook, or sing a lullaby. I wish I had.”
“She was a public health hero,” Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told the AP. “She may well have saved more lives than most doctors do.”
The CDC’s ads were the first-ever national cessation push. Fifty-four million dollars were dedicated to funding it, and it’s estimated to have reached 40 million smokers. A survey found that 79 percent of smokers and 74 percent of nonsmokers saw the ads.
And that, according to researchers at the CDC, translated into results. They estimate that the commercials of Hall and other smokers inspired 1.6 million people to try to quit, and that 100,000 likely will.