Just learned that Debi Austin, "California’s most well-known anti-tobacco advocate," passed away recently. Austin memorably appeared in the 1996 California Department of Public Health ad "Voicebox":
Possibly the second most effective television ad of all time, after the devastating "My Wife Was My Life" anti-smoking ad. Seeing these as a teenager certainly steered me away from ever taking up smoking (not that I'd ever considered it in the first place, but still . . . .). They didn't try to be clever or edgy like a lot of the 2000s tobacco control ads (and, in the process, end up coming across instead overbearing and obnoxious). They just brought in real people to speak some truth. (Well, to be honest, I had always assumed that the people in these ads were actors, and maybe that wife guy was (I couldn't find anything more on that story), but Debi evidently was not.)
Debi Austin passed away of cancer on February 22, 2013. She was 62.
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