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Wednesday, December 16, 1998 Published at 05:45 GMT


Hard-hitting ads target young smokers

Michelle died after filming the adverts

Shock tactics are being used to stop young people becoming addicted to tobacco, in the most hard-hitting of anti-smoking adverts to date.

BBC's James Westhead: The advert aims to show the reality behind smoking
The advertising campaign, to be launched by the Health Education Authority (HEA), features five people in their 30s and 40s who are seriously ill with cancer and one woman who has died since being filmed for the advert.

It follows publication last week of the government's White Paper on tobacco which promises a £100m investment in cutting smoking, particularly among the young.

The £2.5m HEA campaign will run on TV and radio from Boxing Day to No Smoking Day on 10 March.

It aims to bring young people face to face with the results of smoking. According to government statistics, 50% of smokers will die of an illness that is directly related to their smoking.


One of the women featured in the advert, 44-year-old Michelle, died after making the film in November.

She began smoking at the age of 13. In the advert, she speaks of her two children's hopes that she will survive.

[ image: The adverts show the effects of smoking]
The adverts show the effects of smoking
The advert is being screened with the permission of her family.

The other people taking part in the campaign include a 48-year-old woman who removes her wig to show how the treatment she is receiving for lung cancer has affected her.

A 39-year-old man talks of how he contracted oral cancer after developing a 20-a-day cigarette habit.

Katie Aston, smoking campaign manager for the HEA, said: "These adverts make painful viewing. They show ordinary people trying to come to terms with what smoking has done to them.

"They are young and all of them thought it would never happen to them.

"If you smoke and think it will never happen to you, I urge you to listen to what these people have to say - it could save your life."

Teenage smoking

The number of teenagers smoking has risen by 70% in the last decade while the number of older smokers is dropping.

The government says it wants to see smoking among children reduced from 13% to 9% by the year 2010, with a fall to 11% by the year 2005.

Proposals to achieve these targets include a £50m anti-smoking campaign over the next three years, a new criminal offence for shopkeepers who knowingly and repeatedly sell cigarettes to children under 16 and the development of a proof of age card to stop children buying alcohol and cigarettes.

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