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Can graphic ads snuff out smoking?

  • Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
  • March 29, 2013 - 12:55 PM

The government failed to get graphic warning labels on packs of cigarette packages. So now it's going back to a proven stop-smoking strategy: Graphic advertising.

On Monday the Centers for Disease Control will launch a second media campaign to convince smokers to quit.

Tips from Former Smokers follows the success of last year's $54 million ad campaign that doubled the number of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW and boosted visits to the website by more than five times. This time the CDC has set aside $48 million for the campaign.

Five new TV ads show real people suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities such as diabetes, blindness, cancer, kidney failure, and amputation. Some of the ads rely on scare tactics, while others provide encouragement like "do whatever it takes," and "We did it, you can too."

Terrie Hall, 52, who began smoking as a pretty, 17-year-old cheerleader, was up to two packs a day at age 40 and diagnosed with throat cancer. Her larynx was removed, and she speaks via a hands-free device through a hole or stoma in her neck.

"My grandson has never heard my real voice," she says of the 11-year-old boy. "I don't even remember what my own voice sounds like."

Hall, who appeared last year in the U.S. government's first paid anti-smoking ads, attracted so much public attention (her spot got 1.3 million You Tube views) that she appears in the campaign's second 12-week phase.

"These are the kinds of ads that smokers tell us help motivate them to quit, saving lives and money," said Tom Frieden, a medical doctor and the director of the CDC.

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