Public Ignorant About Poisons Found In Cigarette Smoke
The British public is unaware of the multitude of poisonous chemicals found in cigarette smoke - according to a survey carried out for Cancer Research UK.
Smoke from cigarettes contains some 4,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. But three quarters of people surveyed* were not able to name a single chemical, other than nicotine and tar which are listed on cigarette packs. Of those who said they know a lot about the dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke, 68 per cent could not name any. Even when given a list of poisons to choose from, more than two in five people were not able to identify a single one.
The results of the survey were published today (Monday) at the launch of the charityâ€™s hard-hitting new anti-tobacco campaign, 'Smoke is Poison'. By raising awareness of the poisons in cigarette smoke - which include, arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde - the campaign aims to save some of the tens of thousands of lives lost to smoking related diseases every year in the UK.
The main element of the campaign is a groundbreaking series of TV advertisements, filmed by award winning reporter and acclaimed documentary maker, Donal MacIntyre. Using the cover story of making a health and safety documentary, MacIntyre interviews professionals - including scientists, undertakers, and a crime museum curator - who use dangerous chemicals on a daily basis about the stringent precautions they take to protect their health.
The powerful advertisements end with the interviewees' genuine reaction on learning that the harmful chemicals are also present in cigarette smoke.
Other elements of the campaign include radio, internet and newspaper advertising, outdoor posters, washroom panels and beer mats.
Donal MacIntyre said: "The 'Smoke is Poison' campaign breaks the advertising mould. Instead of using glamour and celebrity in a high-budget attempt to try to sell the viewer on the dangers of cigarette smoke, we've just allowed everyday people to tell it how it is.
"This series of 'docu-ads' with their straightforward, honest - almost anti-advertising approach - are a first for the UK. Filming them has certainly made me and the rest of the crew think twice about the dangers of cigarette smoke. We hope they save lives."
Russel Hopps, a Manchester undertaker who features in one of the TV advertisements, said: "I was really shocked when I heard that formaldehyde is in cigarettes. In our business we wear goggles, a mask, thick gloves and an apron to protect our health while we are embalming. Taking part in the filming made me wonder just what other nasty chemicals are in cigarette smoke. I've been thinking about trying to quit for ages but this has made me decide to give up for good."
The campaign has been funded by the Department of Health. Public health minister, Caroline Flint, said: "We know that smoking kills. The Department of Health supports Cancer Research UK's Smoke is Poison campaign. We believe the more people know about the chemicals found in cigarette smoke and how harmful they can be, the more of an incentive it is for people to quit, and the less likely it is for people to start smoking in the first place.
"Smoking related illnesses cost the health system Â£1.7 billion each year. Awareness campaigns like this, will help save people's lives."
Cancer Research UK's chief executive, Professor Alex Markham, said: "The effects of smoking are devastating. Every day in the UK 300 people are killed by a smoking related disease.
"Our 'Smoke is Poison' campaign is designed to make people aware of what they're taking into their lungs and bodies when they puff on a cigarette, or when they are around others who smoke.
"We hope it will encourage many more smokers to quit and make non-smokers feel justified in asking other people not to smoke around them. Quitting is the best present you can give yourself and your loved ones this Christmas and New Year."
Broadcast quality copies of the advertisements are available on request. Members of the public who featured in the advertisements are available for interview.
The chemicals featured in the 'Smoke is Poison' campaign include:
For more information about the poisons in cigarette smoke visit: