Amputated limbs, half paralyzed faces, and gaping stomas are just some of the many new images that cigarette smokers will have to look at the next time they sit through commercials or view a website.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has invested in a $54 million ad campaign, graphically depicting the realities of diseased smokers for the next 12 weeks. Since the campaign’s first run on March 19, smoking cessation agencies like 1800-QUIT-NOW have doubled in both inquiries and phone calls – a sign that the ads are actually working.
While the ads aim to save lives and prevent potential new smokers from lighting up, the campaign is actually nothing more than just a scare tactic with no actual way of helping smokers quit, leaving them completely alone in the dark.
Nicotine addiction is where problems arise. After introducing the body to nicotine via cigarette repeatedly, the brain operates in such a way where the person feels as if they need to smoke in order to operate fully. That is when the full effects of the numerous carcinogens take its toll on the body, resulting in strokes, heart attacks, and lung cancer to name a few.
In order to combat smoking addiction, nicotine alternatives dovetailed with behavioral counseling were devised so that the smoker would eventually forget about drawing another stick. Unfortunately, in a research conducted by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, studies found that regardless of counseling and nicotine therapies, approximately two-thirds of the 800-person study group ultimately relapsed.
From that point, smokers who are bent on quitting must turn to prescription therapy. According to the American Cancer Society, popular brands like Chantix and Zyban do not contain nicotine and instead, affect certain brain receptors to help keep cravings at bay. Though both companies can boast success, both Chantix and Zyban are either expensive or not covered by health insurance companies.
What the CDC or any other entity should be doing is working hand in hand with health insurance companies to make those medications and services available to those who really do want to quit – that includes the coverage of prescription drugs and also the lowering of health insurance premiums of major employers for smokers. As reported by the New York Times, currently, many major employers have implemented financial penalties on tobacco users, ranging up to as much as 20 percent their insurance costs.
The ads undoubtedly offer a truthful ultimatum: quit now or suffer the consequence. The message, however, falls short of a solution and shines itself as tough love. Anybody can tell anyone how dangerous smoking is, but without a clear-cut path to a goal, smokers will ultimately land right where they started: in front of an ashtray.
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