Jan 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

How Tales of Rotting May Inspire Smokers to Quit

Jan 04, 2015 03:23 PM EST

A new campaign developed by the Public Health England (PHE) organization aimed at encouraging long-term smokers to quit may have people putting their cigarettes down after warning  smokers about how smoking "rots" the body from within.  The new graphic online and in-print billboard advertisements feature a roll-up cigarette full of decaying tissue. And while the images are rather graphic, some even saying too uncomfortable for an international campaign, the organization is clearly defending the aim of the ads, claiming they're intended to try and shock smokers into giving up the potentially lethal habit.

Most smokers already know that tobacco damages their hearts and lungs, but they are much less likely to know how harmful it is to other parts of the body, says the PHE.  Cigarettes can damage a person's muscles, bones, teeth, eyes and even their brain.  Smokers are also at double the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The campaign also tries to eliminate the misconceptions around hand-rolled cigarettes as well, saying that while many smokers believe these to be safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes that simply  is not the case.

In spite of efforts of multiple international organizations in raising awareness about their dangerous nature, the popularity of hand-rolled cigarettes continues to rise.  In 1990, 18% of male smokers and 2% of female smokers said they mainly smoked hand-rolled cigarettes.  However, this figure had risen by 40% for men and 23% for women by 2013.

Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director for Health and Wellbeing for PHE, said: "Much of the harm caused by smoking doesn't become obvious until middle age but the invisible damage can start shockingly early - even by the late teens" National Director for Health & Well-being for PHE, Professor Kevin Fenton says. "The earlier a smoker quits the better, but quitting at any age can help reverse at least some of the damage. That's why there is no time better than now to quit. Stop smoking and stop the rot."

Not everyone, however, is a fan of this latest campaign to reduce smoking rates across the country.  Simon Clark, director of the tobacco lobby group Forest, said: "Campaigns like this are an abuse of public money. Education has been replaced by shrill scaremongering that is often counter-productive because it's human nature to switch off when you're being nagged or shouted at on an almost daily basis."

Scaremongering or not, the message is quite clear.  Smoking causes a number of illnesses all throughout the body that are potentially lethal to the smoker and those around them as well. Whether or not smokers will get the message remains unclear and debate rages about the actual effectiveness of campaigns such as this, but by using evidence substantiated by research, the organization has been very successful in raising awareness with past campaigns and PHE believes that the shock value of their newest endeavor may help them reach an even more reluctant audience, as well.

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