Anti-Smoking Ads Pull No Punches

Kick the Habit

EDITOR’S NOTE:  One of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of my 22-years of surgically treating patients with smoking related diseases, such as atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease and lung cancer, was managing their smoking habit and nicotine addiction and convincing, and in many cases cajoling, them to quit. Unfortunately, it frequently took a medical disaster and the consequences of surgery before they finally “got it.”

Despite the dramatic decrease in smoking in the U.S. over the past half century, 20% of American adults still smoke.

A recent very aggressive and compelling Center for Disease Control multimedia tobacco education campaign, which portrays former chronic smokers dealing with the often dreadful consequences of their disease and treatment, seems to have a significant impact on viewers, and is projected to help 50,000 smokers to quit.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled an ad campaign Thursday (March 15) featuring stark — and often gruesome images — of former smokers talking about what life is like with a smoking-related disease.

At a press briefing, the agency showed some of the ads, including one in which a former smoker showed her amputation scars and another demonstrated a “hands-free” device that has enabled her to speak after her larynx was removed. A third former smoker demonstrated prosthetic limbs, explaining that smoking resulted in amputations.

“This campaign will feature some of the most attention-grabbing stories about smoking’s most devastating effects, and we expect it will lead to more than half a million smokers seeking out the resources they need to quit,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during the briefing. “Tobacco continues to kill 443,000 Americans every year. And for every person who dies from smoking, at least two new young smokers take their place.”

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