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Blog: Would this shocking TV ad make you quit smoking?

Woman smoking a cigaretteMany of us will have seen the latest hard-hitting anti-smoking advert on TV, featuring a tumour growing on a cigarette as it is smoked. But does shock tactic advertising work?

In the new anti-smoking advert from the Department of Health (DoH), which is running throughout January and February, smokers are told that just 15 cigarettes can cause a cell mutation that can lead to cancerous tumours.

Designed to show that every cigarette is potentially harmful, it aims to encourage people to quit over health concerns by making the invisible damage visible, says the DoH.

Watch the video below and let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.

Health risks

The campaign, which is supported by a variety of charities including Cancer Research UK, is based on official statistics that show more than a third of smokers still think the health risks associated with smoking are greatly exaggerated.

Since 2004, it is estimated that more than 3 million people have been admitted to hospital with a smoking-related disease in the UK – that’s more than 1,000 people each day.

The DoH says it aims to reach a new generation of young people, many of whom will never have seen such hard-hitting messaging since they took up the habit.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer at the DoH, 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.”

Would this advert make you quit?

I’m not a smoker, and I never have been, so I can’t answer the question of whether such shocking advertising would make me quit.

However, some of my friends are smokers, albeit "socially" - meaning they mostly smoke when they’re having a drink –  so I showed the latest advert to them to gauge their reactions.

Simon Hughes, 28, says: "The advert is truly shocking, especially as I don’t consider myself a regular smoker.

"However, I’ve tried before to give up without success, so unfortunately I’m not sure if that alone would make me never smoke again."

Matthew Thomas, 27, says: "I tend to only smoke when I have a drink, so when I’m out at the pub and have had a few beers I don’t think this would come into my head.

"Sadly it’s not until the next day when I’ve got a hangover that I wish I hadn’t had a cigarette.”

Claire Jones, 28, says: "The advert is really, really alarming but somehow I don’t think it alone will make me never have another cigarette.

"I want to quit and I’m hoping it will come from my own will-power, so actually I guess the advert may help with that."

Shock tactics

The most recent campaign is the latest in a series of shock tactic anti-smoking TV adverts by health charities and the government, which have been trying to stun smokers into quitting for many years now.

But whether this ad will work remains to be seen.

What do you think?

Would a shocking TV advert make you quit smoking?

Perhaps you have already given up: what tactics did you find worked for you?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on the message board below.

Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley is a content producer at He joined us in May 2012 from the world of financial services PR.

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