ATLANTA, May 24 (UPI) -- Big tobacco spends $10 billion annually -- about $1 million an hour -- to portray smoking as vibrant and healthy, but it's not reality, a U.S. official says.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the CDC recently began a hard-hitting ad campaign that showed the graphic realities of smoking, such as former smokers explaining how they cope after losing body parts to amputation.
"These ads show what I and other doctors see when we take care of smokers -- heart attacks, strokes, amputations, cancer, asthma and more," Freiden said in a statement. "People understand that smoking kills. But smoking also disfigures, disables, and robs smokers of their independence."
Big tobacco will spend more on marketing in two days than CDC will spend on these ads all year, but we project that the hard realities of smoking will help as many as 50,000 smokers quit, Frieden said.
"Big tobacco would have us believe smoking is an 'adult choice,' but the surgeon general's most recent report on smoking underscores the fact that almost 90 percent of smokers start as kids and continue to smoke because they are addicted to nicotine -- an addiction that research suggests is as hard to quit as heroin or cocaine," Frieden said. "Addiction to tobacco costs the United States millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. A smoker costs about $2,000 more in medical care than a non-smoker, every year."