“It's enough to make you sick.
Very sick.”
Your lungs are like sponges designed to soak up air, but some people use them to soak up cigarette smoke.
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The Sponge Campaign

‘Sponge’ is a remake of a 1979 television advertisement which was so successful in its day that tobacco lobbyists attempted to have it banned. In the updated ad by Cancer Institute NSW, a sponge is used to demonstrate the amount of cancer-producing tar which goes into the lungs of a pack-a-day smoker over the course of one year.

These simple and powerful visuals show people who smoke the negative effect smoking is having on their health, which hopefully will encourage them to start thinking about quitting.

The Original Commercial

Back in the 1970s, when the writer of the ad was asked to come up with a hard-hitting anti-smoking commercial, the first thing he wanted to know was why cigarettes were so bad. He was put in touch with public health expert Garry Egger, who told him: "The lung is like a sponge, it's designed to soak up air, but a smoker's lung soaks up smoke instead". In the original ad, they used a cardboard cut-out to display the person behind the lungs! Demonstrating the power of a great advertising idea, this commercial alone resulted in a 3.4% reduction in the number of smokers after the ad aired in Sydney.


Campaign Social Media Materials

Would you like to share information or graphics about our ‘Sponge’ campaign on your social media? Click here for all the info.

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By quitting as soon as you can, you’ll not only reduce your cancer risk, you’ll start to see other health benefits too. Learn how your health will improve by checking out smoking effects on the body. If you’re ready to stop now, why not get help and advice with our quit tips.

If you or a loved one has a cancer diagnosis and are looking for information and support, contact Cancer Council WA’s Cancer Nurses on 13 11 20 or via the website.

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