CDC Launching Graphic Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign

By: KKTV/AP
By: KKTV/AP

The federal government's new anti-smoking campaign is hoping real-life anecdotes of smokers now suffering grave consequences from their addiction will help convince smokers to snuff their cigarettes once and for all.

The campaign, the brainchild of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will show graphic images of people whose smoking resulted in heart surgery, a tracheotomy, lost limbs, or paralysis. Tobacco taxes and smoking bans have done little to dissuade smokers; the CDC hopes an aggressive, ugly campaign can do what those obstacles to smoking have not.

After years of decline, the U.S. smoking rate has stalled in recent years at 20 percent.

One of the print ads features Shawn Wright from Washington state who had a tracheotomy after being diagnosed with head and neck cancer four years ago. The ad shows the 50-year-old shaving, his razor moving down toward a red gaping hole at the base of his neck that he uses to speak and breathe.

An advertising firm, Arnold Worldwide, found Wright and about a dozen others who developed cancer or other health problems after smoking for the ads.

Research suggests the $54 million campaign could potentially be effective, as hard-hitting images have been shown to work on some current and would-be smokers.

Graphic ads are meant to create an image so striking that smokers and would-be smokers will think of it whenever they have an urge to buy a pack of cigarettes, said Glenn Leshner, a University of Missouri researcher who has studied the effectiveness of anti-smoking ads.

The images used must stay within certain boundaries, Leshner warned, saying that he has found that some ads have done their job a little too well: creating images so disturbing people look away rather than listen to the message.

For the campaign to work, he says, the images need to scare people into quitting, but not go overboard to where they scare people away from listening.

The campaign may begin as early as Friday, and will consist of billboards, print, radio and TV ads.


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  • by Tom Location: COS on Mar 21, 2012 at 08:38 AM
    The United States Government, through the CDC, has chosen to present disability as frightening through these ads - utterly tearing apart extensive efforts to present people with disabilities in a far more positive light over decades of time. In other words - this is government sanctioned and supported disability bashing. Instead of pushing for the enactment of legislation to make nicotine or tobacco illegal, facing the tobacco industry head-on; the U.S. Government has chosen to beat on People with Disabilities. The politicians of America will never receive another vote from me again - ever; and yes, I mean that.
  • by cain&able Location: COS on Mar 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
    Its a shame to see our worthless government waste more of our money on something as stupid as some pictures to make people stop smoking, its a freedom that they want to take from us. Stop the BS, and let us live the way we want to live.
  • by cain Location: abel on Mar 18, 2012 at 08:33 PM
    SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE, Just like the government to take something away from hard working people. Non-smokers want fresh air, go the ---- outside. Smokers Light Them Up
  • by Joe Location: COS on Mar 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM
    Like; uhm...'wow,' man - *another* anti-smoking campaign. Gee, neato keen or something. Maybe someday the CDC will get serious and work with the government to make nicotine or cigs illegal; but then - the tobacco industry sure does have a lot of money. Who cares about anything else but money, right?
  • by Truth on Mar 15, 2012 at 09:47 AM
    Centura Health breaks into employees cars and plants listening devices; they break privacy laws in an effort to deny benefits.
  • by toker Location: 719 on Mar 15, 2012 at 07:20 AM
    scare us by images.....so that means i should be scared to drive because i saw a bad car accident?
    • reply
      by LedHed on Mar 15, 2012 at 07:32 AM in reply to toker
      I agree to a point; this is a transparent and ineffective scare tactic. But an accident is just that, while smoking is a conscious decision with cumulative negative effects, and this is an attempt at suggesting prevention.
      • reply
        by E on Mar 15, 2012 at 08:30 AM in reply to LedHed
        I don't disagree with you, but nearly all traffic collisions are actually the result of bad, conscious decisions too. Destracted drivers, phones, texting, lack of Driving education, poor car maintenance, drinking, etc.
        • reply
          by LedHed on Mar 15, 2012 at 09:26 AM in reply to E
          True, but that's ulimately a different topic (driver awareness). An accident is "any event that happens unexpectedly, without a deliberate plan or cause", far different than the choice to smoke, thus rendering "toker's" comments inaccurate in this case. And what of someone else being at fault? When a driver plows into you, it voids all proper planning you may have implemented.
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