The British government claims its tobacco education campaign, launched five years ago, has persuaded around one million smokers to kick the habit thanks to shocking images in TV commercials and in poster and press ads.

It also avers that the ads (which include fat dripping from cigarettes to demonstrate their adverse effect on arteries, and children exhaling smoke to highlight passive smoking) have been more successful in helping smokers quit than family doctors .

The education campaign's tracking study for February 2004 shows advertising prompted 32% of recent attempts by smokers to stop, while family medical practitioners can claim credit for 21%.

The campaigns, sponsored by a coalition of charities and health agencies, were run over two years by London shops Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Euro RSCG. They have just won an effectiveness award from the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Says Clare Hutchinson of Abbott Mead Vickers: "We wanted to bring smokers with us rather than turn them against us."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff