The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released on Thursday a new set of graphic anti-smoking ads that feature real smokers who now suffer from the unwanted effects of smoking.

The CDC said that the new ads, which highlight conditions that are associated with smoking, show the benefits of quitting the unhealthy habit for the families of smokers and why it is important to completely give up cigarettes.

The campaign featured 58-year-old Julia, a smoker for over 20 years, who developed colon cancer when she was 49 years old. It also featured 67-year-old Marlene, who started smoking while she was still in high school and started to lose her vision when she was 56 years old. Marlene has developed macular degeneration, a blinding eye disease that now requires her to get monthly injection into her eyes to slow down the progression of her condition.

Other smokers who were featured in the ads developed smoking-related illnesses, ranging from rectal cancer to collapsed lungs.

CDC director Tom Frieden, who described tobacco as the number one public health enemy, said that the ads will not only save lives but also money. He cited that over 1,000 Americans die because of tobacco per day, which is equivalent to nearly half a million per year. Despite these numbers, figures from the CDC show that there are 42 million Americans who currently smoke.

"Ads like these help them quit," Frieden said. "We know that these ads have saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs."

Launched in 2012, the "Tips From Former Smokers" campaign features stories of former smokers who live with smoking-related health conditions and the effects of these illnesses on them. It is hoped that the experiences of these former smokers could urge current smokers to quit smoking.

An article published in the Lancet medical journal in September 2013 says that the campaign has helped motivate about 1.6 million smokers to quit the habit. At least 100,000 of whom are expected to permanently quit smoking because of the campaign.

"Over a million and a half smokers made a quit attempt because of our 12 week campaign - just a 12-week campaign created this effect," said Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Over a hundred thousand people quit successfully and permanently because of the campaign."

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