Written by Faith Anderson on August 7, 2012
CDC’s Anti-Smoking Campaign Features Real Smokers
“The initial results suggest the impact will be even greater than that,” says Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, the federal agency that spearheaded the $54 million campaign. The graphic ads show real Americans talking about how smoking led to their amputations, paralysis and lung removal. “We do plan to do another (campaign) next year,” said Frieden, although he doesn’t have any details yet on the ads or their timing. He noted that the amount the CDC spent on the anti-smoking ad campaign this year is nothing compared to the $10 billion the tobacco industry spends every year to market its products. The two largest tobacco companies in the U.S., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA, declined to comment on the ads, but reported solid second-quarter 2012 earnings.
Ads Called Eye-Opening By Some, Disgusting By Others
According to Frieden though, the print, online and broadcast ads struck a chord with Americans. “What we heard from people is they wished they’d seen them years ago.” Eric Asche, who works for the anti-smoking group Legacy and who consulted with the CDC on the ads said, “We made the danger accessible and realistic. When you personalize a story, it’s powerful.” What kind of effect has the graphic ads had on non-smokers though? One stay-at-home dad called the ads “shocking, disgusting and too provocative,” saying the CDC has “crossed the line,” subjecting the non-smoking majority to an “assault on our senses.” Frieden, however, defends the ads, saying, “It’s important that everyone understands the impact of smoking.” Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., and as Frieden says, “This campaign pulled back the curtain.”