A Message to the COPD Community

Posted on January 25, 2016   |   

You may have seen that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new advertising campaign featuring people living with the results of their smoking. While we acknowledge that COPD is in many cases a result of smoking, we wish to stress that these ads deal more with the consequences of smoking than they do with COPD. While smoking cessation is the best way to prevent COPD, smoking also results in many medical risks other than COPD. Some of the interviews could be considered somewhat graphic and could be disturbing to some. We encourage our membership to exercise their best judgment as to whether these images and interviews might be too disturbing to view. The COPD Foundation is dedicated to helping people live with COPD and improve their quality of life; we also believe that the concept of “shame and blame” doesn’t have a place with those actively trying to improve their quality of life with COPD. Once again we ask you to use your discretion when deciding to view the content of these ads. Thank you.


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  • One ad was certainly disturbing to me. . . but in a good way. It's the woman telling her story of having smoked since she was 17 and now wanted smokers to know that if they choose to continue to smoke "they may find their freedom only extends as far as their oxygen tube." It got my attention. . . I'm stage 4 and on O2 24/7. I appreciate the knock up the side of my head!! After denial, anger and depression I'm ready to take control of my quality of life. I know, for me, this PSA was the kick in the butt I needed to take control of what is the rest of my life.
    I can't speak for anyone else.
  • The most current ad that I see frequently (we really don't have a choice if you are watching TV) is of Becky and concludes with the 'their freedom only extends as far as their oxygen tube.' This is inaccurate..... The visual used gives the impression that you are stuck in your house with your oxygen connected to a concentrator. The COPD community continues to work hard to encourage people to use their portable units (POCs) and get out and about and stay active!!! This is a very poor advertisement, the graphics and music sound like a death sentence and I think it should be removed.
    • I believe it's meant to scare folks to quit, but it would scare and discourage folks from using their O2 with activity as prescribed. I fly 35-40,000 miles/year, including to cities at elevation with my portable oxygen concentrator.

      Positive stories about folks thriving with COPD do need to be told but there is far less funding for those.
  • I take a bit of a different view of these advertisements. These have nothing to do with educating people about COPD in any way, they are ads in a continuing series targeting smokers and suggesting the many health impacts that smoking may have on people over time. They have shown people who have had various cancers and those that have had heart problems and have lost limbs as a result of smoking also.

    In addition the one with Becky on oxygen while it shows the dark side of giving in to COPD there are people in our community that are likely similar to Becky. We don't know what her level of severity really is even though she uses that outdated term of "end stage" We don't know what flow level of oxygen she requires, whether she has access to a POC, her financial condition or anything else. While we desire to show the world that there can be a good life after diagnoses it depends on many factors not the least of which is a persons financial condition and severity.

    Take these ads for what they are......anti smoking ads and understand it is not the advertisers responsibility to promote living well with COPD, that is our responsibility and the responsibility of the foundation and our doctors, nurses and therapists.

    Hell, truth be told if all of us had been exposed to such messages years ago many of us may have quit smoking sooner and might have had less impact on our lives than is the case now.

    The important thing is how we take care of ourselves, support others, put effort into education and research and move forward rather than dwelling on a Madison Avenue approach to reducing the use of tobacco.
    • "Take these ads for what they are......anti smoking ads and understand it is not the advertisers responsibility to promote living well with COPD, that is our responsibility and the responsibility of the foundation and our doctors, nurses and therapists." -

      I do feel it is the CDC's responsibility to present accurate information. Of the several PSAs I have seen, I found this one the most offensive.....IMHO
    • MuMarie,
      I have a great deal of respect for your opinion, I just look at it a bit differently. Let's face it, the CDC has been underfunded and understaffed for some time and has a growing number of issues to deal with such as Zika etc. While I agree it would be helpful if they would address our issues more accurately, lets not hold our collective breath as to how soon that is likely to happen. Good or bad the world now turns based on special interests and the money those special interests can raise, I hate that but it is a fact, so a more powerful voice for us will require more people and more money.

    • Ken, I agree with much of what you said. These are not about COPD, they are about getting people to quit smoking. They have a very limited amount of time to make the most impact. If I had quit years ago I seriously doubt I would be here now with an oximeter sitting next to my coffee cup, writing this post. It is hard to see but it is important that it be seen. If it helps people to quit or if it helps people that are struggling with their quits, it is worth it.

      I agree with the COPD Foundation for putting up a warning, it is good to be aware so some of us can change the channel if it is too upsetting. I am not immune to that side of things either.