pounds 2.5m drive to halt smoking

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A HARD-HITTING anti-smoking campaign featuring a mother who has since died from her habit will be launched today to persuade younger people to give up smoking.

The pounds 2.5m Health Education Authority advertising campaign features smokers in their thirties and forties who have contracted lung cancer and oral cancer and is aimed at showing young people aged between 16 and 24 the reality behind the image of smoking.

Michelle, a 44-year-old who began smoking when she was 13, died after being filmed for the campaign in November. The advert, in which she talks about her two children's hopes for her survival, is being screened with the permission of her family.

Other adverts show Anne, 48, removing her wig to reveal the effects of the treatment she is having for lung cancer and Peter, 39, who has developed cancer of the mouth as a result of smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

"These adverts make painful viewing," said Katie Aston, HEA anti-smoking campaign manager. "They show ordinary people trying to come to terms with what smoking has done to them. They are young and all of them thought it would never happen to them."

The campaign will run from Boxing Day to No Smoking Day on 10 March.

The HEA has also created a series of advertisements to run in women's magazines such as Elle and Cosmopolitan to warn young women that smoking can damage their looks. The authority is concerned that nearly 30 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 are regular smokers.

The adverts will focus on how cigarette smoking ages, thins and discolours the skin.

"We need to give young women a message which is pertinent to them," said a spokesman for the HEA. "Young women can have difficulty making the connection between smoking and long- term illness but they can visualise what smoking does to their skin."