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Anti-Smoking TV Campaign Will Reach More Than 100 Million Viewers in China

(New York, USA and Beijing, China)— A groundbreaking national media campaign underway in China, featuring the harrowing testimony of a former smoker, is expected to reach more than 100 million TV viewers in the world’s largest cigarette market. “Tobacco Breaks Hearts: Every Cigarette Is Doing You and Your Family Harm” from the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control is the first national tobacco victim campaign to run on national televisions including China Central Television (CCTV), the country’s predominant state broadcaster.


Globally, testimonial campaigns like “Hearts” have proven extremely effective at communicating the health harms of smoking and prompting smokers to quit. The campaign is endorsed by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and was developed with technical support from Vital Strategies.

“No country in the world has more to gain from tobacco control than China, which has 300 million smokers. Almost 2 million deaths each year are tobacco-related, including one out of every four male deaths,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies. “We congratulate the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control and China CDC on the launch of this lifesaving campaign, and hope their effort emboldens other leaders to follow their example. Governments have the power to enact proven strategies to reduce the health, environmental and economic harms caused by tobacco use.”

“Tobacco Breaks Hearts” is being broadcast during prime time on all 13 channels of CCTV and promoted across social media with support from World Health Organization and others.

About the campaign

The campaign features the story of Li Xiang, a young husband and father of twins, who started smoking at 19. Li Xiang developed heart disease related to his tobacco use, and eventually suffered a massive heart attack. His life was saved by the prompt actions of a cardiovascular specialist, Hu Dayi, who delivers the campaign’s key message: “Tobacco Breaks Hearts: Every Cigarette Is Doing You and Your Family Harm.” The ad ends with a call to action encouraging smokers to “quit today” and call the National Quit Line. The ad was developed based on message testing to assess its effectiveness in changing knowledge, attitudes and practices.

“Tobacco Breaks Hearts” has been broadcast at prime time on national television and all provincial- and city-level television stations, including more than 20 satellite TV channels across China. Broadcast began on Dec. 28, 2018 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of a state notice calling on leading officials to take a lead in smoke-free action. China CDC is also distributing the ad through its networks in all Chinese provinces, encouraging local CDC offices to implement the campaign at the subnational level.

The ad is available to view at and transcripts and stills are available upon request from

In 2018, Vital Strategies also supported government partners to run 14 regional smoke-free campaigns in 12 cities across China.

About tobacco use in China

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco and home an estimated 300 million smokers. According to “The Tobacco Atlas,” nearly 2 million people in China die each year from tobacco-related disease and the economic cost is estimated to be 57.9 billion U.S. dollars or 392,591 million yuan, also known as renminbi.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable diseases, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.

For more information about Vital Strategies’ work, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Media Contacts: 

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies:; +1.914.424.3356

Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies:; +44.(0)7889.081.170