American anti-smoking and anti-tobacco activist Terrie Hall has died at the age of 53 from cancer.
Hall became well known after displaying her lack of voice box in a number of CDC anti-smoking television ads. She had her larynx removed after doctors diagnosed her with oral cancer in 2001, and up until her death, has spoken with an electrolarynx.
The CDC praised Hill for her bravery in publicly discussing her battle with cancer, saying that they estimate $1.6 million people tried to quit smoking in the first year of the campaign and nearly 100,000 smokers permanently quit as a result of seeing Hill’s ads.
Hill reportedly started smoking when she was a teenager, and wound up smoking two packs a day up until her cancer diagnosis in 2001. Since then, she has catapulted to the forefront of the anti-smoking movement in the hopes that other people can prevent what she has had to deal with.
“Being able to make a difference in somebody else’s life is what it’s about,” said Hall in a May interview with North Carolina’s Fox8. “I’m very passionate about not wanting people to go through what I’m going through because of choices I made at an early age.”
The CDC says that they filmed new ads featuring Hill just last weekend, after it was recently discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain. According to reports, the organization has not decided whether or not to use the footage.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin recognized Hall this year in the nation’s capital for her anti-smoking efforts.
“It was the ultimate honor,” said Hall. “God has blessed me, He blesses me every day.”
The CDC says that Hall will be remembered for the efforts that she put in to let others know the real effects of smoking.
"She was a public health hero," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "She may well have saved more lives than most doctors do."