The Washington Post

‘My name is Amanda, and I smoked while I was pregnant…’

This new anti-smoking ad from the Centers for Disease Control features a woman who smoked during her pregnancy and the impact it had on her child. (Centers for Disease Control)

The ads have been visceral and jarring: A North Carolina woman, diagnosed with oral and throat cancer, warning about the consequences of smoking through the gravelly sound of her artificial voice box. An Army vet and long-time smoker whose diseased lungs make him wonder whether he will be around to see his grandchildren grow up. A 31-year-old man who had his legs amputated due to Buerger’s disease, a disorder closely linked to tobacco use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which began in 2012 with money from the Affordable Care Act, is aimed at getting current smokers to quit by showing the potentially deadly path they are on. By the agency’s account, the ads have prompted more than 1.5 million Americans to try to kick their tobacco habits, with an estimated 100,000 people expected to stop permanently.

Given that apparent success, the agency is launching another round of ads intended to highlight additional tobacco-related conditions, from gum disease to lung cancer. The latest installment in the CDC’s campaign arrives Tuesday, and it includes one of the most sobering ads yet.

“My name is Amanda, and I smoked while I was pregnant,” the spot begins. Amanda Brenden was newly engaged, in college and unexpectedly pregnant. She tried to kick her pack-a-day habit but kept smoking during her pregnancy. The result: Her daughter was born two months premature, weighed three pounds and spent her first days in a neonatal intensive care unit.

“I wasn’t able to hold her. She couldn’t suck or swallow, so she had a feeding tube in her nose,” Brenden, of Eau Claire, Wis., recounted in an interview. “I just want other women to know that they can quit, especially women who are smoking during pregnancy. They can quit and avoid walking down the painful path of having a baby prematurely.”

Brenden has quit smoking, but too late to prevent the health problems that still affect her otherwise healthy daughter, now 7.

“My family’s whole life really revolves around what triggers an asthma attack for her,” she said. “We really have to plan our days around possible asthma flare ups.”

According to the CDC, the new ads will begin running July 7 in a wide range of outlets, including television, radio and print, as well as on billboards and in movie theaters. The campaign will last roughly two months and, combined with a similar effort earlier this year, cost an estimated $60 million.

Officials said the latest campaign also will focus on reaching lower income groups, who tend to have among the highest smoking rates. , Spanish-language ads will run on Hispanic television stations and Asian-language print ads will run in cities that are home to large Asian populations.

The campaign also features one last ad from Terrie Hall, the North Carolina woman and outspoken anti-tobacco advocate who became a centerpiece of the CDC’s initial anti-smoking campaign. After battling smoking-related cancers for years, Hall died in September 2013. She was 53.

A new advertisement from the Centers for Disease Control features Terrie, who shares smoking's painful impact on her life. (Centers for Disease Control)
Brady Dennis is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on food and drug issues.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat
Next Story
Lenny Bernstein · June 23, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.