Smokers are being told that just 15 cigarettes cause a mutation that can lead to cancerous tumours in a new hard-hitting campaign launched by the Department of Health.
The new ads – featuring a tumour growing on a cigarette as it is smoked – are the first shock adverts since the controversial “fatty cigarette” ad eight years ago. They aim to encourage people to quit over health concerns, by making the invisible damage visible.
The campaign comes in response to statistics that show more than a third of smokers still think the health risks associated with smoking are greatly exaggerated.
Designed to show that every cigarette is potentially harmful, the campaign will send a tough message about the dangers of smoking to a new generation of young people – many of whom will never have seen such hard-hitting messaging since they took up the habit.
The campaign is supported by a variety of charities including Cancer Research UK.
Since the last campaign, focusing on the health harms of smoking in 2004, it is estimated that more than three million people have been admitted to hospital with a smoking related disease – that’s more than 1,000 people each day – and more than 570,000 people have died because of a smoking related condition.
Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “It is extremely worrying that people still underestimate the serious health harms associated with smoking.
“We want smokers to understand that each packet of cigarettes increases their risk of cancer. And I want smokers to know that the NHS will help you quit. Contact an NHS stop smoking service today or pick up a Quit Kit from your local pharmacy.”