'Deserve to die' cancer campaign turning heads on Metro

The ads are appearing in Metro stations throughout the D.C. area.

The next time you ride Metro, you may find yourself alarmed by some new ads. They proclaim "hipsters," "cat lovers,” the "tattooed" and more "deserve to die." But, those controversial words have a deeper meaning.

There's no doubt this campaign is turning heads, and causing some confusion. The Lung Cancer Alliance is taking a bold new approach to cracking a stigma. Lung cancer victims didn't ask to die — but, many people think they deserve to.

At one Metro stop where the ads appear, the Farragut West station in Northwest D.C. are puzzled, upset and even angry.

“You have to really look at it, instead of glazing [over] it,” said Metro rider Selome Mersha.

At first glance, some wish they could tear these ads down.

“I don't believe anybody deserves to die, but I would say when they're referencing lung cancer possibly people can do things to put lung cancer upon themselves as far as smoking cigarettes,” said Metro rider Jason Hall.

It's that "blame game" the Lung Cancer Alliance is trying to end in a bold, new way.

“What we're hoping this campaign does and by focusing on the absurdity of this statement, is to actually galvanize interest, to seek out more information,” the Alliance said in a statement.

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, the president and CEO of the Alliance, says more than 25,000 women who have never smoked will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. As one of the leading causes of death worldwide, 60 percent of patients were former smokers, but 18 percent never lit up.

“The stigma suggests that because you may have smoked that you are then deserving of the outcome and that's just wrong and we've got to change that," Ambrose said. "No one deserves to die from lung cancer."

While these ads may raise some eyebrows, those who take a second look say that's a serious statement worth sinking in.

“My initial reaction is negative because it's a negative message, but at the same time it requires you to respond to an issue that needs to be addressed very much so,” said Metro rider Warner Mueller.

When these ads first rolled out across the country earlier this summer, they didn't make any mention of lung cancer. They were teaser ads. When people Googled “deserve to die” on the web, they were directed to the Lung Cancer Alliance website, aiming to educate.

The ads are now up in dozens of cities, plastered on phone booths and up in transit areas.

The Alliance says this is just the beginning. We can expect more ads that push the boundaries and get people thinking in the future.