Terrie Hall, the leading face of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s successful Tips From Former Smokers campaign, died Monday after a prolonged battle with cancer stemming from a lifetime of smoking. She was 53.

Hall’s death comes a week after a new study released in the journal The Lancet found that about 1.6 million smokers tried quitting — and about 100,000 succeeded — after seeing her and others in CDC’s TV ad campaign.

Hall smoked her first cigarette at 13. In 2000, she found a sore in her mouth that was diagnosed as oral cancer. Later she found out she had throat cancer. Treating her cancer required multiple surgeries over the years, including the loss of her voice box, leaving a hole in her throat.  This summer the cancer was found in her brain, and despite radiation and surgery, continued to spread.

Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States, accounting for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths from heart disease. The American Heart Association includes quitting smoking as one of  “Life’s Simple 7” — lifestyle factors that can greatly impact heart health.

“Terrie wanted to save people from having to go through the sickness and surgeries she endured.  She decided to let smokers and young people see her disfigurement and know what caused it, so that they would stop smoking–or better still, never start,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., MPH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By her willingness to show and tell people what cigarette smoking had done to her, Terrie saved thousands of American lives.”