Woman who appeared in Calif anti-tobacco ad dies

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Debi Austin in a video posted by California Public Health on YouTube.

Debi Austin in a video posted by California Public Health on YouTube.

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California health officials say a woman who smoked a cigarette through a hole in her throat to illustrate the struggle of nicotine addiction in public service advertisements has died after a long struggle with cancer.

Health department spokeswoman Anita Gore says Debi Austin passed away Friday at age 62.

Austin first appeared on television in 1996, telling viewers she began smoking at age 13 and could never quit.

She told the camera, “They say nicotine isn’t addictive” before holding a lit cigarette to the hole in her throat that allowed her to breathe after her larynx was removed at age 42.

“How can they say that?” Austin asked viewers, as cigarette smoke wafted from the hole.

Four months after the ad, Austin quit smoking.

Here is a more recent video of Debi Austin discussing smoking.

 

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