Anti-smoking ad marks history

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasSouth Western Times
Camera IconCredit: Getty Images

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Cancer Council WA’s flagship tobacco control program, Make Smoking History.

To recognise this milestone, the organisation has launched a new advertising campaign, Voice Box, which illustrates the physical and emotional devastation of head and neck cancers caused by smoking and is one of the most graphic campaigns yet.

“In 2019, Make Smoking History commissioned Gatecrasher to film a laryngectomy (the surgical removal of a person’s voice box) at Fiona Stanley Hospital with additional footage filmed at St John of God Murdoch Hospital,” South West regional education officer Shenae Hawkins said.

“The campaign was developed following concern from WA health professionals about the low awareness of the causative link between smoking and head and neck cancers, and the life-changing effects of the treatment for such cancers.

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“We are so grateful to our (anonymous) patient for allowing the crew to film their deeply personal operation and to Dr Hamish Mace, specialist anaesthetist and Dr Rob Wormald, ear, nose and throat surgeon, for speaking to camera about how this type of operation changes a person’s life.”

Mrs Hawkins said hard-hitting campaigns had been a key strategy to the success of Make Smoking History in the South West region over the past 20 years.

“The program started when one in four WA adults smoked cigarettes,” she said.

“People still smoked in bars, nightclubs, playgrounds and cars carrying children, so clearly, progress has been made.

“Research has shown that anti-smoking ads that use personal testimonies, graphic imagery, emotive messages and the negative health effects of smoking have been the most effective in prompting quit attempts for residents in the South West.

“As a result of these hard-hitting campaigns, we have potentially saved tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of lives.”

The campaign launched last month and will be on air until December 5 across metropolitan, regional and Aboriginal radio and TV stations, shopping centres and digital platforms.

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