New Zealand' leading anti-smoking lobby has been accused of exploiting the World Trade Centre deaths on September 11, 2001.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) posted an advertisement on the internet showing two white columns with smoke pouring out.
The ad was picked up by the lobby's American counterpart which placed it on its own website with the caption "Terrorism-related deaths since 2001: 11,337. Tobacco-related deaths since 2001: 30,000,000."
The Metro newspaper in New York quoted one man Jim Riches, whose firefighter son died in the terrorist attack as saying the lobby should not have exploited the event, in which thousands of people died brutal deaths as the building burned and collapsed.
"Some jumped out of windows," said Mr Riches: "To compare smoking a cigarette to this terrorist attack is insulting to the people who died. People smoke of their own free will. On 9/11, those people were murdered."
Claire McKay of the advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach in Auckland said the ad wasn't meant to "denigrate the victims of terrorism. It was never intended for a US audience. It was a thought-provoking ad for a local anti-smoking website. New Zealanders are 12,000 miles away, and we are slightly less sensitive to the event of 9/11, perhaps."
Ben Youdan, Director of ASH in New Zealand, said in a statement: "This poster is a confidential draft, is not published and is not in the public domain...It is still a draft creative concept, not a final or executed campaign."