POSTED: Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 7:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 7:19pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — For the first time in history the U.S. government has unveiled a publicly-financed anti-tobacco media campaign.
The ads include images of former smokers who've suffered physically because of their tobacco use.
Most aren't pleasant to watch or easy to listen to.
The images are meant to be disturbing.
"The ads in this campaign are exceedingly graphic because the focus group testing with smokers show that this is what they need to break though," says Dr. Cheryl Heaton.
The Denters for Disease Control estimates the ads will encourage half a million smokers to try to quit and discourage non-smokers from starting.
Brandon Carmichael started smoking cigarettes at age 15 and was diagnosed with a tobacco-related condition called Buerger's Disease at age 18 when he was a senior in high school.
The disease leads to poor circulation in the extremities.
Brandon he wasn't able to quit his addiction until after both of his legs were amputated.
"When I was losing my legs and I was in the hospital and my feet were turning black and my toes and skin was peeling off, I always wondered, would I be going through this if I didn't smoke that last cigarette?" he says.
The nation's biggest tobacco companies released statements reacting to the CDC's ads.
Both R.J. Reynolds and Altria, parent company of Philip Morris, reminded smokers of the dangers of tobacco and supported quitting.
The CDC's campaign comes just two weeks after a federal judge said the government's plan to include graphic warning labels on packs of cigarettes is unconstitutional.
The new media campaign has been described as those images come to life.
The ads will run for three months beginning monday, on billboards, TV, radio and social networking sites.