The video: The federal Centers for Disease Control has launched a confrontational $54 million anti-smoking advertising campaign, which horrifically illustrates the dangers of smoking to shock people into giving up cigarettes. One ad from the 12-week campaign (called "Tips From Former Smokers") features a man shaving, navigating his razor around a gaping hole in his neck, the result of a tracheotomy (see the video below). Other ads show a 31-year-old man who lost his legs due to smoking-related vascular disease or a woman who peels up her shirt to reveal a foot-long scar on her back, her souvenir from an operation to remove a diseased lung. "This is incredibly important," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, tells the Associated Press. "It's not every day we release something that will save thousands of lives." But will this in-your-face approach really work?
The reaction: Polls suggest that "more than half of smokers want to quit," says Jaimie Dalessio at Everyday Health. "Maybe a peek into their future is just the kick in the butt they need." Studies have shown that shock ads are effective, "for the most part," says Matthew Creamer at Advertising Age, but the CDC faces an uphill battle. The budget for this three-month blitz "is equal to two days of what tobacco companies spend on marketing." The CDC is hoping these "hard hitting" spots can get 50,000 people to stop smoking, says Meredith Carroll at Babble. But, "as a parent, I hope the ads will prevent as many kids from starting smoking. The ads can be difficult to look at, but maybe that's just the message that our kids need."
Take a look at two ads from the series, and judge for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- How I lost all my money
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
Subscribe to the Week