Ex-Smoker Speaks Out About Graphic Ads
You've probably seen the anti-smoking ad featuring Terrie Hall, a 51-year-old throat cancer survivor who talks about how she gets ready in the morning while putting on a wig, false teeth and covering her stoma with a scarf.
"When I first saw (the ad), I cried because I didn't realize how impactful it was," says Terrie, who had never before appeared in public without her wig.
Terrie says she participated in the campaign because of her strong belief in its message that tobacco use not only kills, but causes lingering illness that can affect quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted extensive research into the most effective way to deliver that message.
"Finding out that you're gonna die doesn't really help people," says CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD. "And people don't empathize with their lungs. So, showing the picture of a lung may not be as effective as showing a real person and what happens to that individual."
According to the CDC, the strategy paid off. Calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW doubled and visits to SmokeFree.gov tripled during the 12 week campaign. Public health officials believe the ads will encourage more than half a million smokers to attempt to quit.
As a result of the campaign, Terrie says she's often recognized in public. She describes a recent encounter with one former smoker -- a total stranger -- who approached her in Myrtle Beach, SC.
"She put her hands out to me and she was starting to cry and she said, 'I quit smoking because of you,'" Terrie recalls. "Of course, I started crying and had cold chills. It was pretty powerful."