In yet another sign of the power of cat videos, an ad warning young smokers about the health dangers of secondhand smoke for their cats and featuring some of the biggest Internet cat video stars is creating quite a buzz.

The 30-second ad aired on television during the Grammy Awards and became an instant hit. Soon the alarmist hashtag #CATmageddon was trending on Twitter.

“If I still smoked, this would make me quit,” tweeted @alswrite.


The anti-tobacco group, Truth Initiative, is behind the edgy ad campaign, which uses images of famous cats such as Shark Cat (a cat in a shark costume riding a roomba) and Pirate Cat (a cat in, you guessed it, a pirate costume). A siren blares in the background as these words pop up on screen: “Cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes.” The ad also warns: “Smoking = no cats = no cat videos.”

If that doesn’t cause your back to arch up, what will?

The ad finishes by urging viewers to “Be the generation that ends smoking,” and the command: “Prevent #CATMAGEDDON.”

Those who work with people trying to quit smoking applauded the ad’s unusual approach to reaching teens.

“Part of it is if you want to break through and get your message heard, you need to be a little different and edgy. This campaign certainly does that,” said Mike Sheldon, senior communications manager for Clearway Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that provides support for people who want to stop smoking. “Obviously cats are a big YouTube star. [The ad] does a good job of being relevant to teens. Whatever is motivating to you to help you quit, we’re all for it.”

 

“To Your Health” offers quick doses of health news several times a week.