Anti-Smoking Icon Dies of Cancer | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Anti-Smoking Icon Dies of Cancer

Debi Austin, star of memorable "Voicebox" ad, has passed away at 62.


Debi Austin smoked her first cigarette at 13.
Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda


| Share

Debi Austin, the woman who inhales a cigarette through a hole in her throat in the famous 90s anti-smoking ad "Voicebox," has passed away at 62 after a two-decade battle with cancer. In the ad, she says she smoked her first cigarette at 13 years old. “When I found out how bad it was, I tried to quit,” she says. “But I couldn’t. They say nicotine isn’t addictive. How can they say that?” Austin, who had her larynx removed, was known as California's most well-known anti-smoking advocate. She appeared in many ads warning against the dangers of smoking, and encouraging people not to start. “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,” says California public health director Dr. Ron Chapman. “She was an inspiration for Californians to quit smoking and also influenced countless others not to start.” Graphic, heartfelt ads like "Voicebox" are particularly effective in stopping and preventing smoking, especially for young people, says Andrew Strasser, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. “Even on just a simple level, it opens the dialog because you see how this can turn out for someone who chooses to smoke,” he says. “For youth, it might be a good method of prevention, so you don’t end up this way, and for current smokers, it’s a good reminder that it’s better to quit and not end up here.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv