RALEIGH — An anti-smoking group is using the tobacco industry's own techniques - and its money - to convince teens not to smoke.
In the latest TV advertisement, a lung cancer patient, speaking with an artificial voice box, warns against the dangers of smoking. Ironically, the ads are paid for by the tobacco industry with money from the national tobacco settlement.
"They're really effective at getting out the message of what the lives of people with tobacco-related illnesses are like," says Deborah Bryan of theAmerican Lung Association.
Kurt Scofield started smoking when he was 18. The 23-year-old says watching the ads scared him so much. He is quitting his pack-a-day habit.
"For a couple of years, it was like I could quit whenever, then I needed one, and had to have one," he says. "It's gotten to the point where I don't like to go for a walk because I run out of breath and my chest hurts. It's not worth it."
Tobacco farmers, already under siege, see the ads as a threat to their livelihood.
"The whole campaign is designed to lower consumption and actually who that hurts is the tobacco farmer," says Peter Daniel of the N.C. Farm Bureau.
The anti-smoking campaign may become a permanent fixture on the airwaves. The tobacco industry is required to pay into the settlement fund as long as its products are marketed in the U.S. So as long as they are selling cigarettes, they are also paying for the ads.
The anti-smoking ads are sponsored by theAmerican Legacy Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based group that was founded after the national settlement.