WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is using
supermodel Christy Turlington to wage a new battle in the tobacco wars,
launching a Web offensive to dissuade women aged 18 to 34 from lighting
Turlington has fronted the CDC's anti-smoking campaign since revealing
that her father died from smoking-related diseases and that she is in
the early stages of emphysema (the latter of which she disclosed in
December on Good Morning America). She now is starring in a streaming
video presentation, 'Women and Smoking: Seven Deadly Myths.' It will
appear on Oxygen Media's ThriveOn-line.com health-oriented Web site
until March 31.
The Academy for Educational Development brokered the deal between Oxygen
and the CDC. The campaign will eschew the much-tried - and ineffective,
so it is said - tactic of trying to convince younger women that smoking
is bad for their health in favor of highlighting the adverse impact
smoking has on family members. In it, Turlington relates how she lost
her father to lung cancer and emphysema.
Organizers of the new effort borrowed heavily from the playbook of the
highly successful 'Truth' campaign, which used PR and advertising to
curb teen smoking in Florida.
The new campaign takes dead aim at the tobacco industry for its sales
strategies. Tobacco opponents say women have been victimized by the
tobacco companies' attempts to associate smoking with thinness and
'The bad guys hire beautiful, skinny women to do this in movies,' noted
Anne Marie O'Keefe, task force leader for the project at the Academy for
Turlington, she says, reaches both men and women in the targeted age
bracket. 'To that extent, using a role model to explode the myth is the
same rationale. We couldn't afford to hire Christy Turlington, but she
generously donated her time,' O'Keefe added.
Jeff McKenna, who directs CDC's communications on smoking, said
statistics show that the emphasis over the last five years on cutting
teen smoking appears to be working. But there is anecdotal evidence that
young adults are smoking more.
In the coming months, the CDC will convene focus groups to get a firmer
grasp on how the tobacco companies are reaching young adults and to
determine what preventive strategies would be most effective.