A macabre image showing a red, bulging tumor growing from a cigarette is part of the British government's latest attempt to get people to stop smoking.

British health officials have launched a new anti-smoking campaign in response to recent statistics revealing that a huge proportion of smokers still think the health risks associated with tobacco are a blow-up.

The government-sponsored advertisement will be shown on television, online and on billboards for nine weeks, carrying a message that states that just 15 cigarettes can cause a mutation than can lead to cancerous tumors, according to the UK Department of Health (DoH).

The £2.7 million ($4.34 million) campaign is the first time British health officials have used graphic imagery to combat smoking since its "fatty cigarette" advertisements in 2004. The "fatty cigarette" ads showed smokers inhaling from cigarettes leaking with fat, and the smokers with fatty deposits bursting out from their arteries.

The latest hard-hitting, graphic advertisement comes after several years in which a softer approach has apparently failed to persuade smokers to quit. According to The Independent, a third of smokers still think the health risks are greatly exaggerated.

"It is extremely worrying that people still underestimate the serious health harms associated with smoking," the chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said in a government news release.

"People will see a man smoking and then a cancer growing out of the cigarette. That is what happens in people's bodies," Davies said, according to The Independent.

"One in two smokers die from smoking, most from cancer. We know that people don't personalize the harms of smoking and don't understand what's happening in their bodies. This will show them," she said.

"We have got to reduce the impact that tobacco has on the lives of far too many people - it's not a 'lifestyle choice', it's an addiction that creeps into people's lives and results in death and disease," Dr. Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said in a statement.

"Giving up smoking can be extremely difficult, so providing extra motivation and reminding people of just how harmful the habit is can help smokers to take that first step in quitting for good," he added.