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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Your Health

CDC Launches Graphic Anti-Smoking Campaign

The CDC began its largest and most alarming campaign to date 

A graphic ad campaign to stun smokers into quitting was launched Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The campaign is the largest anti-smoking initiative by the CDC and is costing $54 million.

The campaign titled "Tips from Former Smokers" features people whose smoking habit resulted in lost limbs, heart sugery and partial lung removal. 

Last year, the FDA jumped to support this anti-smoking cause by approving nine graphic images to be displayed onto cigarette packages.

Recently, a federal judge ruled this campaign strategy to be unconstitutional. 

However, starting March 19th the ads will reach smokers through billboards, television, radio and print publications and will air for at least 12 weeks.

The adult smoking rate hasn't decreased since 2003 despite efforts like taxing tobacco and banning it from many public places. The tobacco industry's expenses for promoting cigarettes are at $1 million an hour in the United States and can reach up to $27 million a day.

For the past 30 years, there have been no federally funded mass multimedia ads for anti-smoking. The CDC aims to create a dramatic wake up call for smokers who don't realize the dangers involved with smoking. This is the first time the agency has used such graphic images.

Some researchers are concerned the images may be too graphic for audiences and will cause them to turn away from the ad rather than listen.

One of the shocking ads features a 50-year-old man in the process of shaving. He moves the razor down to a red gaping hole at the bottom of his neck he must use for speaking and breathing. Another ad spotlights Suzy who suffered a smoking-induced stroke and is now dependent on her 23-year-old son. 

The CDC believes that the shock factor is needed in order to fuel attention and accurately portray the impact smoking has on the quality of life. They plan to also include information on a national quit line and advice on how to kick the habit. For more information visit the CDC website.

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COMMENTS

I've read quit line phone calls have more than doubled since they started airing these adverts, so I guess they're working. They're not so scary as they are disgusting, if you ask me, but whatever works, right?

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