Hard-hitting TV ads that motivated 1.6 million Americans to quit smoking in 2012 will begin to air on WA screens this week as part of our new Make Smoking History Campaign. They feature 51 year old Terrie Hall from the USA, who at the age of 40 was diagnosed with throat and oral cancer, resulting in the removal of her voice box.
The campaign features a series of three ads that will focus on the impact that smoking has had on Terrie.
The first ad will show Terrie's morning routine: inserting her false teeth, putting on a wig, fitting a valve inside a hole in her neck to allow her to speak ‘hands free' and covering it with a scarf.
In the second, Terrie urges smokers to film themselves reading a book or singing a lullaby for their grandkids, so they can still hear their voice after it's gone. The third, filmed days before Terrie's death in 2013, features her plea for people to never start smoking.
Our Make Smoking History Manager, Kelly Kennington, said the highly emotive and graphic campaign shows the debilitating challenges of smoking-related illness.
"Most people know smoking causes lung cancer and can kill you, but few know about the other 15 types of cancers caused by smoking, such as those of the head and neck, that can have a devastating impact on your daily life," she said.
"Latest national estimates show head and neck cancers are the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancers amongst men and the 11th most commonly diagnosed amongst women.
"While some may find this campaign difficult to watch, Terrie's situation is real, and is the undeniable reality for many smokers."
For 55-year-old Joondalup grandfather-of-four, Scott Ruppell, Terrie's story is all too familiar. After having radiotherapy and chemotherapy for throat cancer caused by smoking in 2016, he required a laryngectomy to remove his voice box in March last year.
"I was devastated when I found out I had cancer - I'd smoked since I was 14 and thought I was ten foot tall and bulletproof," he said.
"I couldn't talk for months after the surgery until they could install a valve in my throat. I went from a 110kg man to 67kg of skin and bone."
Scott has since gained weight and is dealing with his new self, but says it's been a tough road.
"Over the past two years, my life and that of my family has been turned upside down," Scott said.
"Getting ready in the morning takes me an hour. I struggle to chat for longer than 15 minutes and the skin grafts make turning my neck too painful.I wish I'd listened all those years ago and quit. I hope by telling my story others will learn from my mistake and stop."
We recently conducted a survey of WA smokers which revealed graphic testimonial-style campaigns rate as the most effective in encouraging people to quit.
"Every day, 187,000 WA adults wake up, and the first thing they do is have a cigarette, despite the fact that most of them wish they didn't smoke," Kelly said.
"Smoking will kill 2 out of 3 of these people unless they can quit, so we hope this campaign gives people the motivation they need to give it a go.
"Our message is simple - we don't want you to wait until you get sick to quit. Please act now, because we don't want you, or your family to go through what Terrie went through".
Terrie Hall passed away in September 2013, aged 53 after the cancer spread to her brain.
Our Make Smoking History campaign was established in 2000 with the goal to reduce smoking in Western Australia. We work to assist smokers to quit by providing information and resources to help with quitting, and raise awareness about the harms of smoking and the benefits of quitting.
For help to quit smoking or for more information on the campaign, visit makesmokinghistory.org.au.