New York launches powerful antismoking ads
Combating an industry that has spent decades building an image that smoking is cool, New York City is airing gruesome images of suffering and disfigurement on television and in subways and taxis.
New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched a series of commercials profiling a Bronx woman - Marie - who has had nearly 20 amputations. The ads coincide with the city's nicotine-patch giveaway, happening through May 1.
Marie developed Buerger's disease after smoking for 12 years. Buerger's disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, is characterized by a narrowing or blockage of the veins and arteries of the extremities, reducing blood flow to these areas. The first symptom patients often experience is extreme pain in the lower arms and legs while they are at rest. Buerger's disease occurs in 6 out of 10,000 people, mostly in young or middle-aged males with a history of smoking or chewing tobacco.
|image: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene|
Marie went to the emergency room after experiencing such severe pain she couldn't eat or sleep. Surgeons removed parts of her fingers, parts of her foot, and one leg below the knee.
She can't hang pictures or screw on a lightbulb because she has no fingertips.
"Everything I do now I have to stop and think, because just me banging my hand or something could cause me to lose my fingers," she said in the commercial. "That's not living."
The commercials show close-up images of the saw bone, clippers, and medical equipment used in her amputations. Marie holds up her severed fingertips to the camera.
The Health Department learned about Marie through a telephone survey of smokers. After hearing her story, the surveyor asked if she would be interested in sharing her story, according to Jennifer 8. Lee of The New York Times.
As a result of her amputations, her friends didn't want to call her, she said. Her kids became embarrassed of her appearance. Her companion of 10 years left her. "He couldn't take it anymore," she said.
Marie was able to quit smoking in 2006, according to The Times. She used the nicotine patch.