Anti-smoking crusader Terrie Hall has died of cancer. She succumbed to her illness at the age of 53 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Hall was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2001, at age 40 and continued to smoke while undergoing radiation treatments.
“I didn’t think I had to quit. The radiation was getting rid of the cancer, so I could still smoke,” she said.
Later that year, she would learn she had also developed throat cancer and would later undergo a laryngectomy.
Hall was known for appearing the graphic “Tips from Former Smokers” anti-smoking campaign by the Centers for Disease Control, in which the former highschool cheerleader was shown inserting her false teeth, putting on her wig, and covering her stoma—the hole in her throat through which she breathed—in order to get ready for her day, all while speaking with an artificial voice box that had been inserted in her throat.
“[The electronic voice box] is the only voice my grandson knows,” she said. “I miss being able to sing lullabies to him. When children ask me why I talk like this, I tell them it’s because I used to smoke cigarettes. Don’t ever smoke.”
Praised for her campaigning against smoking, Hall’s absence was immediately felt.
“She was a public health hero,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC.
“She may well have saved more lives than most doctors do,” Frieden said.
Officials believe the campaign has been successful and may have led led as many as 100,000 Americans smokers to quit.