Lately there seems to be an increase in anti-smoking advertising on Iowa television channels. In South Dakota, there is a huge campaign to institute a smoking ban similar to the ones already in place in Minnesota and Iowa.
I have no problem with these ads or these campaigns. What I have a problem with is the manner in which they’re getting their message out.
The Truth Campaign generally has some excellent advertising. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re serious, but they get their message across in a tasteful way. Truth is behind the latest clever campaign, the Shards O’ Glass company.
However, in Iowa, there is a campaign called Just Eliminate Lies (JEL) that eschews tasteful and reasonable in their advertising. The commercial that bothers me every time I see it has a man who is supposed to be a Big Tobacco executive. One commercial has the exec saying that he wants to make billions off of people trying to look cool. In another commercial, the exec dismisses the ill effects of chewing tobacco by saying, “So what if it causes mouth cancer and you have to have part of your jaw surgically removed? Are you a man? Or are you a coward?”
This commercial bothers me, only because it demonizes tobacco executives. It seems to be a common trend in these anti-smoking campaigns. Rather than trying to inform the people about the ill effects, and offering some sort of reasonable way to quit, they resort to scare tactics and portraying smokers and anyone associated with them as evil, disgusting, or otherwise terrible people.
In all honesty, I’m wondering why these groups even exist. By the time I was in ninth grade, I knew so much about the ill effects of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs that I could have made anti-smoking commericals myself. But if these tactics were so effective, why do people still smoke? Why are there still smokers in the world if everyone knows it’s so bad for you?
Surprise, surprise, it’s personal preference.
I have many friends who get reminded by other people that smoking is bad for their health. And all they can say back is, “I know,” and take another drag.
People who smoke are going to smoke. Short of getting rid of every pack of cigarettes in the world, no amount of campaigning is going to get everyone to stop smoking. Even though, in ninth grade, I knew all about how bad smoking was for my health, it still didn’t stop me from buying a pack and trying them out when I turned 18.
Singling out and demonizing smokers is an in effective way to make a point. If you truly cared about the well-being and health of people who smoke, you wouldn’t attack them and ridicule them, destroying their sense of self and making them feel worse.
Make your point, just eliminate any sort of hostility and animosity toward smokers that are so obvious in these advertisings.