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New Smoking Campaign Highlights Damage To Sex Appeal

Smoking damages you sex life warns a hard-hitting campaign which was unveiled today by UK Public Health Minister Caroline Flint. The ads, which launch on national TV, radio, press and poster sites on July 1, demonstrate for the first time the impact smoking has on attractiveness, both sexual and cosmetic.

(press release from DOH - UK)

Separate adverts target young adults. The first, aimed at men, shows the impact of smoking on impotence and erectile dysfunction and uses a burning cigarette end between two 'fingerlegs' as a metaphor for a penis. It's key message is: 'Does smoking make you hard? Not if it means you can't get it up'. The second strand targets women with stark images of the effect of smoking on their appearance and attractiveness to men, with messages such as 'If you smoke, you stink', and a focus on 'minging teeth' and 'cat's bum mouth'.

Speaking at the screening of the new adverts, Caroline Flint said:

"This latest series of adverts marks a new and exciting route for the campaign. A key part of our drive to reduce overall smoking prevalence is getting the message to harder-to-reach young adult audiences. We know 70% of smokers want to stop smoking, however, with younger people, fears about attractiveness and fertility can be a stronger motivation to quit than fears about health. It is hoped that the hard hitting messages in this new campaign will make young people to quit smoking for good."

The campaign also includes direct mail, online advertising and dedicated microsites for each strand: and The 'fingerlegs' impotence adverts will also be placed in pub toilets saying, 'Bad news. Smoking causes impotence. More bad news. These ads are in the ladies too', with stickers on urinals stating, 'Think with your penis? Your penis thinks you should stop smoking'.

Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by around 50 per cent for men in their 30s and 40s and up to 120,000 men from the UK in this age group are impotent as a direct result of smoking. Lifestyle factors such as obesity and conditions such as heart disease and prostate cancer all play a role, but smoking is also a major and avoidable hazard for sexual health. However, awareness of the sexual implications of smoking remains low - 88% of smokers do not realize smoking is a cause of impotence.

The adverts targeting women demonstrates the cosmetic effects of smoking by recreating a 'scene' between a girl and a boy in a bar, with the boy realizing that the girl 'stinks' when he moves closer to her. As well as bad breath, gum disease and tooth loss, smoking increases likelihood of facial wrinkling ( by three times ), makes skin less elastic and excess toxins in the body caused by smoking have been highlighted as a possible cause of cellulite.

According to a recent survey by the NHS Smoking Helpline, nearly half of men associated smoking with wrinkles, bad skin, and less enjoyable kissing and one in two smokers said they'd quit to improve their sex appeal. Over two-thirds of young men and women, and over half of smokers, say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness5.

Clive Gingell, Chairman of the Sexual Dysfunction Association said:

"Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health in the long term. However, young men who smoke won't necessarily be thinking a great deal about impotence as a complication of smoking. If they only knew the damage they were doing, which would adversely affect their quality of life in later years, then they would stop. This message is clear: if you smoke, you're far more likely to become impotent. By making men aware of how smoking can affect their sexual performance in middle age, hopefully this new campaign should provide men with an additional and compelling reason to quit."

Dr Bav Shergill from the British Skin Foundation said:

"Giving up smoking is the cheapest and best way to improve skin quality and vitality. Many of us spend a small fortune on moisturizers and make-up to make sure we look our best. Smoking completely undermines such efforts it gives a sallow complexion, adds years to your face and degrades collagen, making skin less elastic. Giving up smoking can not only add years to your life, it also adds years to your appearance and can help stop premature aging before it's too late."

To find out about the local NHS Stop Smoking Service nearest to you, phone the NHS Smoking Helpline free on 0800 169 0 169. Smokers who want to quit can also find details of their local NHS Stop Smoking Service by visiting texting 'GIVE UP' and their full postcode to 88088 or ask at their local GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.

1. Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by around 50 per cent for men in their 30s and 40s and up to 120,000 men from the UK in this age group are impotent as a direct result of smoking. Men in their twenties are not part of this figure but it is at this stage in their lives that they are doing the damage that could cause impotence later in life. During an erection, large quantities of blood flow, under pressure, into the penile arteries. This causes the veins which drain the penis to become compressed, so preventing the immediate outflow of blood. Smoking significantly impairs this process. The damage caused by smoking to male sexual health also includes: reduced volume of ejaculation, lowered sperm count, abnormal sperm shape, impaired sperm motility ( ability to swim and penetrate the egg). Smoking is also linked to pyospermia, a condition manifested in swollen testes with excess white blood cells ( pus ) present in ejaculate.

*Polling undertaken by MORI for ASH in March 1999. NB: this survey was conducted prior to the introduction of new pack warnings, including: 'Smoking may reduce the blood flow and causes impotence'

2. The total campaign, including all advertising, production and direct marketing is worth £6.3 million.

3. About Prostate Cancer and Impotence

Prostate problems such as a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate ( common among men over sixty ) and prostate cancer may affect a man's ability to have an erection. It is also common for the treatments for prostate cancer to result in erectile problems. For support and information regarding this and other prostate related conditions please call The Prostate Cancer Charity's confidential helpline on 0845 300 8383 to speak to a specialist nurse.

4. The NHS Smoking Helpline ( 0800 169 0 169 ) provides expert, free, and friendly advice to smokers and their families. The helpline is open between 7am and 11pm every day for information requests and referrals, with unlimited access to trained advisers giving one-to-one advice and support from 10am. Since its launch it has received over 1 million calls. A year after first calling the NHS Smoking Helpline, nearly a quarter of callers said they had successfully given up and were still not smoking.

5. NHS Smoking Helpline advisers can refer callers to a local NHS Stop Smoking Service offering ongoing free face-to-face support and advice near their own home. There are 170 throughout the country, offering a range of services including one-to-one meetings and group discussions with trained stop smoking advisers. Over 200,000 smokers kicked the habit after receiving help from NHS Stop Smoking Services in the last year. Of the 359,000 smokers in England who set a quit date between April 2003 and March 2004 over half said they had successfully given up 4 weeks later. Government research shows that smokers are up to 4 times more likely to give up successfully if they use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service together with Nicotine Replacement Therapy than relying on willpower alone.

6. Please contact Siobhan Gilheany/Carolyn Gater/Sarah Stapely, Fishburn Hedges on 0207 839 4321 or email: for more information about the campaign and:

- Stills, beta tapes or high resolution imagery of the ads

- Interviews with an NHS Stop Smoking Service adviser, the Sexual Dysfunction Association, British Skin Foundation

- Interview with a case study of a man suffering from impotence or a woman who has given up smoking and noticed cosmetic improvements

Helen Abbott, aged 24, gave up smoking last April, with the help of her local NHS Stop Smoking Service based in St Martins Hospital, Bath. And since quitting smoking, Helen's noticed a real transformation in the way she looks. She said: "When I was smoking, I used to hide behind make-up - my friends used to joke that I'd put it on with a trowel! But since quitting smoking, my eyes are sparkling, my complexion is clear and fresh and my teeth are much whiter too. In the past I wouldn't have dreamt of going out without my foundation on but now I just put on a touch of lip gloss with bare skin. I feel great!"

7. Please contact Sophie Coppel/Brenda Irons-Roberts in Department of Health Media Centre on 7210 5707/5649 for media enquiries around smoking policy.


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