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The CDC ads are more graphic than spots that have aired nationally before.

The idea behind such ads is to create an image so striking that smokers and would-be smokers will think of it whenever they have an urge to buy a pack of cigarettes, said Glenn Leshner, a University of Missouri researcher who has studied the effectiveness of anti-smoking ads.

Leshner and his colleagues found that some ads are so disturbing that people reacted by turning away from the message rather than listening. So while spots can shock viewers into paying attention, they also have to encourage people that quitting is possible, he said.

The CDC campaign includes information on a national quit line and offers advice on how to kick the habit, CDC officials said.

Two of the largest tobacco companies issued statements, both acknowledging the health dangers of smoking but neither addressing the CDC ad campaign. “We agree smoking is addictive and causes serious disease and for those who want to avoid the health effects of smoking, the best thing to do is to quit,” said the statement by Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA _ the nation’s biggest tobacco company.

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Associated Press writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.

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Online:

CDC campaign: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/