The Great American Smokeout is coming up on November 16th. Now, it shouldn't come as news to anyone that smoking is unhealthy. Despite this, tobacco-related illnesses remain the leading cause of preventable death in this country, killing more than 400,000 people in the U.S. every year. That's more than AIDS, alcohol, automobile accidents, murders, suicides and fires COMBINED!
There are still 45 million smokers in the United States using a product that prematurely kills one out of every two lifelong smokers-- people who use it as intended . In addition, 8.5 million Americans live with tobacco-related illnesses, from cancers and heart disease to emphysema.
The latest advertising campaign from
launched on October 23rd with the television spot, "Singing Cowboy," featuring one of those 8.5 million Americans living with tobacco-related illnesses. In the spot, the cowboy rides a horse down a busy city street to meet his sidekick, who strums his guitar to get people's attention. The Singing Cowboy removes a bandanna from around his neck to reveal a hole from a laryngectomy. He begins singing a song, which starts with the lines "You don't always die from tobacco" with the help of an electro larynx (a hand-held electronic voice box). The ad has people talking; you can watch it on
(more than 20,000 people already have).
The Singing Cowboy is a 46-year-old sales associate named Tom from Bay Shore, NY, who had a total laryngectomy eight years ago. Tom smoked three packs a day for roughly 20 years, quitting when he was 33. Five years later, at age 38, he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and had surgery that removed his larynx (which we commonly call a voice box).
The organization behind the award-winning truth campaign is the
American Legacy Foundation
, a non profit public health foundation devoted to "building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit."
November 16th is a great day to call attention to the uphill battle we still face when it comes to this serious public health issue. The challenges he must now live with are an ideal illustration of the non-lethal tolls of tobacco use. Smokers know about grim statistics and know the importance of quitting; Tom's experience might have more of an impact than hearing more figures about the death-toll from tobacco use. After all, we all have to die from something, but not all of us will have to speak through holes in our necks from what is still erroneously thought of as a "habit." In actuality, smoking is a serious addiction that many smokers want to leave behind, but may lack the tools and resources to quit smoking effectively.
About The American Legacy Foundation
The American Legacy Foundation, a Washington, DC-based national public health foundation devoted to tobacco use prevention and education, provides funding and strategic direction for the campaign. truth advertising is produced by an alliance of agencies led by Arnold Worldwide in Boston and Crispin, Porter + Bogusky in Miami.
The American Legacy Foundation is building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. The foundation was created as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the tobacco industry, 46 US states, and five US territories. Payments to the foundation are made on behalf of the settling states. truth is one of many foundation initiatives that advance collaborative, innovative, evidence-based solutions to undo the harm from tobacco use in America.
The American Legacy Foundation receives the majority of its funding from payments to the National Public Education Fund established by the MSA. The MSA called for payments to the fund for five years and thereafter for years in which the companies participating in the agreement collectively have a 99.05% market share. The foundation received what is likely the last guaranteed payment in 2003. The participating manufacturers' share does not currently meet the threshold and is not expected to in the foreseeable future. As a result, the foundation and the truth campaign are now facing a serious funding challenge. Efforts are being made to raise funds to continue the truth campaign as well as continue funding the foundation's other life-saving programs.
For more information, visit
The American Legacy Foundation
Article contributed by Stephen Winkler. For more information call 215-525-1407 or visit
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