CDC’s Alters Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign

There’s good and bad news for ostomates this year. The good news is that ostomy awareness seems to be on the front page of the internet lately. The bad news is not all of the press is positive. Take for instance the CDC’s recent anti-smoking ad campaign. Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post wrote an article titled, “CDC Alters Anti-Smoking Ads After Complaint From Ostomy Association.”

Simply put, it was a scare tactic. Implying that if smokers don’t quit, they may end up with Colorectal Cancer which may lead to having ostomy surgery. I certainly agree with Lenny’s statements with respect to the goal of the ads:

“The point of the ad was that smoking causes colorectal cancer.”

“The CDC’s $68 million ad campaign is designed to be shocking.”

Truthfully, many anti-smoking ad campaigns are unpleasant. But this time their message caused a stir in the ostomy community. Many ostomy advocates are taking a stand to end the stigma surrounding ostomies and with the CDC, they collectively used their voices and also took action by starting an online petition.

The article clarifies that the CDC did not cancel the ads, instead they edited some of the language which was most offensive to ostomates, such as:

In the longer version of “Julia’s Story,” for example, a 59-year old woman no longer says of her ostomy: “And you go whenever it goes. You have no control. If it comes loose, it smells.”

Also gone is her statement that “I was at home the majority of the time because I was scared it would come loose, it would smell and I didn’t want be around anyone. So I was really kinda, like, stuck at home.”

Thank you Lenny, for ending your article on a positive note by highlighting Lois Fink, a patient advocate with the ostomy organization had ostomy surgery in 1986 due to Crohn’s disease. “You can live a normal, active, productive life,” she said. “I had no life with Crohn’s disease. I was chained to a bathroom.”

Read the full articles (April 17 & April 21) by Lenny Bernstein on The Washington Post – a top source for finding popular news around the web.

Based on feedback from people with ostomies, former smokers, and others, the CDC has revised the video.

April 27 Update: Here’s CDC’s Apology Letter about the Anti-Smoking ads.  Apology accepted and you’re forgiven, CDC.



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