The question of whether or not advertising is effective has been a topic of research for decades. More specifically, this research asks the question of advertising effectiveness regarding anti-smoking advertising by the use of a method of advertising known as ‘fear-appeal advertising’. Due to the nature of this study, attention and focus are placed on the affective and emotional aspects of this type of advertising and aims to understand the perceptions that smokers have of anti-smoking advertisements. The respondents recruited for this study all classified themselves as smokers, and were selected to form a representative sample of the South African population, ranging between the ages of 24-49 years. The perceptions of these smokers are discussed against the backdrop of literature, in an attempt to highlight the effectiveness of these advertising campaigns and ultimately suggest a way forward. The value of this exploratory study lies in its potential for generating further questions about emotions, the complexity of human health-risk behaviour and the impact that exposure to health warnings will ultimately have on future actions.