California Broadcasts Attack on Smoking Tv, Radio Ads Slam Tobacco Industry

Article excerpt

California has launched an anti-smoking ad blitz, featuring a TV spot showing a woman who has throat cancer but is so addicted that she continues to smoke through a hole in her throat.

The ads are the first by the state in more than two years. They are the opening $22 million phase of a three-year $67.5 million campaign - funded by taxes on cigarettes.

The six new TV commercials and six new radio ads include spots aimed at convincing children not to smoke by portraying the tobacco industry as manipulative. One television ad hits hard at secondhand smoke, showing a father smoking near a toddler who has a pained look on his face. As the father blows clouds of smoke - the smoke isn't real - the child plays with blocks and spells out words: bronchitis, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome. Medical research has associated secondhand smoke with a heightened risk of all three. But the strongest spot focuses on a woman named Debi, 46, from Los Angeles, who had cancer of her larynx and underwent a laryngectomy. Viewers can see the hole in her throat as she speaks to the camera. She explains in a raspy and whispery voice that she had her first cigarette when she was 13. "When I found out how bad it was, I tried to quit. But I couldn't." A half-smoked cigarette burning in an ashtray appears. Debi takes the cigarette, puts it to the hole in her throat and draws deeply. A printed message appears: "The tobacco industry denies that nicotine is addictive." The commercial ends with Debi talking: "They say nicotine is not addictive. How can they say that?" Several of the new ads home in on young people. They are specifically designed to counter tobacco industry marketing aimed at children. …