Anti-Smoking Ads: Positive Message or Too Extreme?

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 7:56 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 7:56 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) The voice is raspy and mechanical. It is a commercial that has become well known as a graphic personal story with an anti-smoking message. "I'm Terri and I used to be a smoker..."

Those ads are from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are aimed at getting people to quit smoking. Their method may be controversial, but doctors locally and at the CDC say it is worth the shock and discomfort to get that message across.

"I think it gives the public the reality of the consequences of what poor choices can bring, and those realities can sometimes be harsh, and sometimes can be life altering," Dr. Wesley Hicks Jr. of Roswell Park said.

Public opinion is far more mixed, with viewers commenting for and against the ads.

Either way, the CDC says they are effective. As a result of the commercials, smokers quit-lines doubled in volume and hits to their website were up five times the usual rate.

"We do these messages, we do these campaigns for one simple reason: they work. They save lives and they save money," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.

The ads have been described as "graphic" and "extreme," but local physicians say that is a reality with the use of tobacco.

"You could come to my clinic this coming Monday and you'll see five or six people that are exactly as the people on those CDC ads," Dr. David Cohan of Roswell Park added.

So the CDC has decided to continue the campaign, releasing five new ads with personal stories in an attempt to curb smoking. And doctors say take the commercials to heart, because if they help people quit, they are doing their jobs.

"Clearly not doing habits that are detrimental to one's health is ultimately the best treatment for any disease not to have it," Dr. Hicks said.

For more information on the commercials or help quitting:

For information on the NYS Smoker's Quitline: or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487)