Graphic Campaigning

18 Apr

On March 19th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began running a new series of anti-smoking ads. The campaign is called Tips From Former Smokers and features former smokers who are now experiencing smoking-related diseases. Besides just showcasing the challenges that these people are now going through, the stars of the campaign also give advice or “tips” to help people quit smoking. [i]

I was surprised to read that this is the first time the CDC has run a paid, comprehensive national anti-tobacco advertising effort. This is especially shocking because marketing and promotion of cigarettes in the United Sates exceed $1 million an hour—more than $27 million a day.[ii]

You can see the videos at:



One of the most graphic ads is called “Terrie’s ad”. We watch as a woman named Terrie who has lost her hair and teeth to throat cancer which developed due to smoking, get ready in the morning. Terrie had to undergo a laryngectomy and speaks through a stoma.  Seeing such a young woman so sick is shocking and sad but that is the point. These ads stay with you and hopefully will stay in the minds of those who are thinking of beginning to smoke or those who want to quit.

I was not surprised to read that these ads seem to be having an impact. On April 2, The CDC released a press release which stated, “Two weeks after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the ‘Tips from Former Smokers Campaign’, calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline have more than doubled. Previous experience from state and local media campaigns promoting quitlines shows at least five to six smokers try to quit on their own for every one person who calls a quitline.[iii]

It will be interesting to see if this campaign can maintain its impact. Perhaps it can be used to help combat other life threatening habits such as drugs or wearing jean on jean.


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