Advertisement

Woman featured in graphic anti-smoking ads dies of cancer, hailed as hero

Her name is Terrie Hall and she died Tuesday of cancer. Hall, 53, was the face of a graphic U.S. government-funded campaign that aimed to get Americans to stop smoking.
Her name is Terrie Hall and she died Tuesday of cancer. Hall, 53, was the face of a graphic U.S. government-funded campaign that aimed to get Americans to stop smoking. Pawel Dwulit, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — In telling her story, she puts on a wig, inserts her fake teeth and covers a hole in her throat with a scarf. Her voice is deep and gravelly.

Her name is Terrie Hall and she died Monday of cancer. Hall, 53, was the face of a graphic U.S. government-funded campaign that aimed to get Americans to stop smoking.

Because she spoke so candidly about her plight and offered her story as a cautionary tale to others, health officials are applauding her bravery.
“She was a public health hero. She may have saved more lives than most doctors do,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the CDC that spearheaded the four-month-long campaign called Tips from Former Smokers.

Read more: Smokers who quit before 40 save a decade of their lives: study

Warning: The video content may be disturbing to some viewers.

Hall, among about a dozen other faces, made up the campaign — a series of online videos, television commercials, radio ads, billboards and street signs that were plastered across the United States between March and June last year.

Story continues below advertisement

See Hall’s videos here.

The ads were purposely graphic, Dr. Tim McAfee told Global News. It was the largest and most expensive campaign the U.S. government has funded so far with a $54 million price tag.

They show firsthand, through true life stories, the slippery slope that this group of ex-smokers descended into following a lifetime of lighting up.

Read more: Could plain packaging for cigarettes help Canadians quit smoking?

Following the campaign, the CDC said that it helped 100,000 Americans quit for good. That’s based on its estimates that 1.6 million Americans attempted to quit while the campaign was running.

Hall’s first ad received more than 2.8 million views on YouTube.

“I was so addicted that I smoked morning, noon and night. I smoked when the telephone rang and when I was finished eating. I smoked for whatever reason there was to light up a cigarette,” Hall said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I even smoked the day of my surgery right up to front door of the hospital.” Her surgeon told her that day, as he wheeled her in, that that would be last time she would light up a cigarette.

Read more: Should smoking bans extend to public parks and beaches? Debate sparks controversy in Canada

In 2001, at 40, Hall was diagnosed with oral cancer and then throat cancer. Her voice box was removed. She shed her hair and lost her teeth through cancer treatments.

This summer, the cancer spread to her brain.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

Sponsored content