TV advert reveals invisible damage done by smoking

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new hard-hitting TV campaign is driving home the message that every single cigarette is harming smokers.

Smoking just 15 cigarettes is enough to trigger a genetic mutation that can lead to cancerous tumours, according to the Department of Health advert, which is based on research from The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge.

The advert - launched after Christmas and set to run throughout January - depicts a tumour sprouting on a cigarette as it is smoked, in a bid to highlight the invisible damage done.

The campaign comes on the back of recent statistics that demonstrate that more than one in three smokers believe the health risks associated with smoking are over-exaggerated.

The last cancer-related shock ad was the 'fatty cigarette' ad eight years ago, suggesting that there is now a new generation of smokers who have never been exposed to the graphic consequences of their habit.

The campaign is supported by a variety of charities including Cancer Research UK. It is is intended to send a strong message about the dangers of smoking, with the aim of encouraging smokers to quit and stopping people taking up the habit in the first place.

Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer and kills half of all long-term smokers.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Hard-hitting campaigns such as this illustrate the damage caused by smoking and this can encourage people to quit or may even stop them from starting in the first place.

"We have got to reduce the impact that tobacco has on the lives of far too many people - it's not a 'lifestyle choice', it's an addiction that creeps into people's lives and results in death and disease."

Dr Kumar acknowledged that giving up smoking can be a challenge, but said he hoped the ads would help give people extra motivation to quit by reinforcing just how harmful the habit is.

More than three million people have been admitted to hospital with a smoking-related disease since the last campaign in 2004 - over 1,000 people per day.

Smokers can find out about their local NHS stop smoking service on the SmokeFree website or pick up a Quit Kit from a pharmacy.

Copyright Press Association 2012