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Anti-tobacco ad slams celebrity smokers

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Those who tuned into Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards saw another side of the normally glamorous stars of Hollywood. During a commercial break while the world patiently waited to see the flawless Beyoncé performance, an anti-tobacco ad aired that showed the ugly side of some celebrities.

Instead of lecturing teens about the dangers of smoking, the ad lets images of celebrities caught in the act send the message that smoking is not attractive.

The ad features images of Rihanna, Orlando Bloom, Lady Gaga, Kristin Stewart and other celebrity smokers with a cigarette hanging from their mouths. Upbeat music with lyrics, "Don't let me throw it down," plays as a montage of unflattering photos showed the celebs puffy away.

"Every time one of these photos gets posted, big tobacco gets tons of free marketing," the ad says.

The ad campaigners believe that celebrities who choose to publicly smoke influence others by making it look cool and glamorous.

Iowa anti-tobacco group Legacy, which is spending $50 million on stop-smoking campaigns this year, is the sponsor for the new ad. The money comes from a $206 billion settlement Iowa and 45 other states received in 1998 from tobacco companies. 

Iowa is spending just $5.1 million a year on anti-tobacco ads, whereas tobacco companies spend about $90 million per year in the state. Federal experts recommend that Iowa spend $30 million per year.

Legacy board member and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller helped the anti-tobacco aid get on air.  The ads are like the "Truth Campaign" ads that aired several years ago. "The 'Truth Campaign' took the approach that the tobacco companies are manipulating you, the tobacco companies are using you," Miller said.

This new approach will hopefully get more people to kick the habit or not pick it up in the first place. In 2012, 11 percent of Iowa juniors in high school and three percent of eighth-graders admitted they smoked in the past 30 days. These numbers dropped from 13 and two percent in 2008.

Sunday's anti-tobacco ad will be airing nationally.

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