Holy smoke, check out these disturbing masks from British online clinic HealthExpress! Inspired by actual images of ravaged humans from cigarette-pack health warnings, they're designed to show the effects smoking can have on people's faces, hair and throats. Actors wearing the masks will roam streets this month as part of the U.K. National Health Service's "Stoptober" anti-smoking campaign.
A pair of masks show smoking's impact on 40-year-old men. One has a gaping tracheostomy hole in its neck, as well as pronounced cataracts and lots of wrinkles. (Whoa, it's like looking into a mirror, and I don't even smoke! Blogging exacts a heavy toll.) The other men's mask features a gnarly throat-cancer tumor—it looks like an alien parasite!—and prematurely graying hair. A third mask shows the impact of smoking on a 30-year-old woman, with sallow, saggy skin, lip trauma caused by mouth cancer and unsightly damage to the teeth and gums (though in England, everyone's teeth look that way).
At first, I was tempted to say these masks go too far and seem to display the ravages of crystal meth more than smoking. In fact, that's not the case. Smoking can do hella harm to one's personal appearance, which often holds the key to identity and self-esteem. Playing on vanity might prove jarring enough to get smokers to at least consider quitting. Imagine looking into a mirror someday and seeing an image that resembles one of these masks. That's a possibility no one wants to face.