UK Department of Health tries to deter smokers with graphic ad

The new National Health Services' anti-smoking ad claims that just 15 cigarettes can cause a mutation. NHS

The U.K. Department of Health is hoping that they can deter future smokers and encourage others to quit with a shocking new online, television and print campaign.

The clip shows a tumor growing on a cigarette as the smoker takes each puff. A narrator warns that every 15 cigarettes will cause a mutation, which is how cancer starts.

"People will see a man smoking and then a cancer growing out of the cigarette. That is what happens in people's bodies," chief medical officer Sally Davies told the BBC.

"We really want to catch all smokers but particularly the young who won't have seen hard hitting campaigns before. They don't understand what damage is happening in their bodies, what their risks are," she added.

The U.K.'s Department of Health said in 2008 21 percent of adults aged 16 and over in England said they smoked, with 32 percent of those between 20 and 24 admitting to the habit. The average smoker consumed 13.1 cigarettes per day.

In the United States, 19.3 percent of adults 18 or older -- about 43 million people -- smoked cigarettes in 2010, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing 1 out of 5 deaths each year.

Statistics recently compiled by the U.K.'s Department of Health showed that more than one-third of smokers feel that the health risks claims about cigarettes are blown out of proportion, the BBC reported. Davies and her team hope that by showing the tumor growing, people will understand that each pack of cigarettes really does increase their risk of getting cancer.

"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," Cancer Research UK chief executive Dr. Harpal Kumar said. Cancer Research UK has said they support the ad.

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