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Dear Editor: The Center for Disease Control has launched the “Tips From Former Smokers” national ad campaign that depicts the harsh reality of what real people suffer as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. In these ads, former smokers bravely expose their smoking-related disabilities on advertisements that will run heavily between March and June.

We feel the impact of smoking-related diseases here, too. More than 7,200 Wisconsinites die from smoking-related diseases every year, leaving behind families, friends and lives. At the same time, each day 1,000 Americans under the age of 18 begin smoking.

Every hour, the tobacco industry spends $1 million to market and promote their products making smoking look glamorous, sexy and mature.

This is far from the reality of smoking. The “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign shows smoking in its true light — what physicians see in their offices every day. Reality is emphysema, heart attacks, amputations, cancer, and lost voice boxes.

People believe that smoking kills, but that’s only part of the story; smoking also lames, disfigures and robs smokers of their independence. The brave former smokers in these ads show us the reality.

Bringing these messages to the public is vital if we intend to save Wisconsin from the devastation of more tobacco-related death and disease.

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Todd Mahr, M.D.

chair, American Lung Association in Wisconsin Leadership Board