‘Too graphic’ anti-smoking ad faces censure

A Government anti-smoking advertisement showing a cancerous tumour growing on a cigarette as it’s smoked is facing censure after the advertising watchdog received a flurry of complaints the spot was too graphic.


The Dare created spot, which launched last week, is an attempt to shock smokers into quitting by warning that smoking 15 cigarettes could cause a mutation that leads to cancerous tumours.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received 63 complaints from people that found the spot unpleasant and too graphic. The ASA is currently considering whether to launch a formal investigation into the ad.

The spot has an “ex-kids” rating, which means it cannot be shown during children’s programming but could still be seen by children watching television with their parents.

The Department of Health is focussing above the line activity on the short-term harm cigarettes do to health in an attempt to shock smokers into quitting. It is the first time in eight years the tactic has been used. Anti-smoking ads have talked of the long-term affects since 2004’s “fatty cigarette” ad, which claimed smoking clogs the arteries.

The Department has been rapped by the regulator over anti-smoking ads before. A 2007 campaign that featured a man dragged along by a fish hook piercing his cheek in a bid to demonstrate how hooked smokers are by their addiction was banned after receiving 774 complaints from people who found it distressing.

A spokeswoman for DH defended the ad, claiming it has had 75,000 “positive responses” to the campaign.0

She adds: “Smoking kills nearly 80,000 people in England each year and we must use a range of tactics to raise awareness of the harms. The advert is designed to remind people that every cigarette causes damage and that there is no safe limit.”


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