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The federal government has unveiled a nationwide anti-smoking campaign, with a series of ads that feature former smokers who discuss the negative health consequences of smoking.

The ads will appear on television and in newspapers starting next week. The cost of the campaign is $54 million this year. The New York Times reports that the tobacco industry generally spends at least that much on promotional efforts in two days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is spearheading the campaign, hopes it will save lives and money, according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “We estimate that this campaign will help about 50,000 smokers to quit smoking,” he told the newspaper. “And that will translate not only into thousands who will not die from smoking but it will pay for itself in a few years in reduced health costs.”

Studies have shown that graphic anti-smoking ads can be effective in convincing smokers to quit, the article notes. However, critics call them alarming and demeaning.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to require tobacco companies to add graphic warning labels to cigarette packages by September 2012. The labels, which include pictures of diseased lungs and rotting teeth, are meant to inform the public of the dangers of smoking. Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked the FDA’s label requirement. The Obama Administration has appealed the judge’s decision.

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