Diseased Ex-Smokers Ad: Will CDC’s Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads Save Lives?

By Philip Ross on March 28, 2013 6:03 PM EDT

smoking
The CDC launched their diseased ex-smoker ad campaign earlier today, part of their second round of a graphic ad campaign aimed at curbing tobacco use. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Diseased ex-smoker ads are back, and they're just as graphic as last year's. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, launched their anti-smoking crusade earlier today, part of their second round of a graphic ad campaign aimed at curbing tobacco use. The familiar diseased ex-smoker ads we saw last year, which featured real people who were disfigured by smoking, will once again be splashed across public spaces all over the country.

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Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., and yet one in five adults still smoke. The diseased ex-smokers ads will encourage people to quit by showing graphic images of people with smoking-related issues next to text that gives a brief synopsis of how smoking impacted them, according to the CDC's website.

"This campaign is saving lives and saving dollars by giving people the facts about smoking in an easy-to-understand way that encourages quitting," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release earlier today.

Beginning Monday, ads will run for 12 weeks on T.V., radio, billboards, magazines and newspapers nationwide.

The Epoch Times reports that last year's ad campaign, the agency's first and biggest national advertising effort, cost $54 million. This year's is estimated to cost about the same. The money pays for T.V., radio and online ad space, in addition to print ads and billboards.

One of this year's posters shows a man sitting on a bed, his left leg amputated below the knee. He also has a scar running down the center of his chest. Identified simply as "Bill, Age 40, Michigan," the banner, in all white capital letters, reads: "If you smoke with diabetes, plan for amputation, kidney failure, heart surgery ... or all three."

Another features a 52-year-old woman named Terrie from North Carolina. Terrie has a large, visible hole in her throat, the result of throat cancer which caused her to have her larynx removed. The banner reads: "Record your voice for loved ones while you still can." Terrie also appeared in last year's campaign.

So, does the diseased ex-smoker ad campaign work?

According to the CDC, last year's ads were responsible for tens of thousands of people quitting.

Newsroom reported last August that the CDC saw the volume of its national toll-free quit line, 800-QUIT-NOW, more than double, receiving 192,000 more calls than normal. Additionally, smokefree.gov also saw its call volume triple, receiving 471,000 new visitors.

You can learn more about the CDC's campaign here.

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