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Iconic Anti-Tobacco Advocate, Debi Austin, Loses Battle to Cancer


By: California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

SACRAMENTO – On Friday, February 22, 2013, California's most well-known anti-tobacco advocate, Debi Austin, passed away at the age of 62 after a long and courageous battle against cancer. First appearing in the 1996 California television ad "Voicebox," her story illustrated the dangers of smoking and made a powerful impact in the fight against tobacco. "Voicebox" is the most-recognized and talked about California tobacco control ad.

"We are saddened by Debi's death. She exemplified the real toll tobacco takes on a person's body," said California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman. "Debi was a pioneer in the fight against tobacco and showed tremendous courage by sharing her story to educate Californians on the dangers of smoking. She was an inspiration for Californians to quit smoking and also influenced countless others not to start. We trust she will continue to touch those that hear her story, particularly teens and young adults. She will be greatly missed."

After making "Voicebox," Debi became an anti-tobacco advocate with a personal and passionate mission to keep kids from smoking. She touched those that listened to her at schools, universities, prisons and city council meetings.

Debi's recent ads include "Candle" and "Stages" which aired in 2011. To hear her personal story, watch "Debi Austin on Tobacco."

About the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP)

CTCP was established by the Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act of 1988. The voter- approved act instituted a 25-cent tax on each pack of cigarettes and earmarked five cents to fund California's tobacco control efforts, which support local health departments and community groups, an aggressive media campaign, and tobacco-related evaluation and surveillance. California's tobacco control efforts are estimated to have saved more than one million lives and resulted in $134 billion in health care savings. Lung cancer rates are also declining in California three-times faster than the rest of the United States. Learn more at TobaccoFreeCA.


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