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Kaivon Williams ENC1102 Joseph Cottle 4/15/13

Anti-Smoking Advertisements Advertisements and marketing schemes are all around us. We see them as we drive down the street, watch television or movies, even when browsing the internet. There is no doubt that advertising has a significant impact on our lives and our perception of the world around us. Some ads try and persuade us to buy a product, while others may attempt to deter us from a certain activity, such as smoking. I believe that anti-smoking ads have a significant impact on preventing people from smoking and causes current smokers to think twice about their habit. Smoking is one of the top causes of death in the United States, and is also the leading cause of a number of cancers such as that of the lungs, mouth and throat. One might think that with the overwhelming amount of information at hand that proves smoking is detrimental to a person’s health, a smoker would quit completely and never look back. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, and people still continue to smoke. Recently, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention released a series of ads entitled “Tips from a Former Smoker� in which former smokers give tips to current smokers on how to maneuver through daily tasks. These tasks include shaving, working around the house, or just getting ready for the day. The impact of the ad comes from the fact that all of the former smokers in the ads have and are talking through their stomas, a hole made in the throat to allow breathing, that have come from their chronic


Williams 2 tobacco use. The effects of smoking can physically be seen in the smoker’s loss of hair, teeth, and deformity of the face and skin. These ads are shocking and can be disturbing to some. When I was growing up, I was always taught that smoking is bad for your health and the health of others around you. I can remember being in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at my elementary school where they warned the students about all the dangers that come with drugs, including smoking. I took all of these lessons to heart, and wholeheartedly believe that smoking is a terrible habit. The CDC advertisement confirms and reinforces all of my beliefs about smoking. The former smoker’s appearance makes one cringe and wonder how and why the smoker allowed themself to become that way. When I saw the ad I immediately said to myself, “I don’t ever want to look like that, or live with a stoma for the rest of my life.” I have one person in my family who smokes and I’ve always tried to encourage them to end their habit. Maybe seeing the antismoking ads will make them think twice the next time they want to smoke. Smoking ads are often directed towards adults, but they are seen by younger individuals as well. College students, in addition to adults, are one of the target audiences of anti smoking advertisements, as they make up a large percentage of smokers. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states that, “According to a recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General, about 25 percent of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 years old were current smokers in 2010” (“Many Colleges Banning Smoking…, 2012). College is a very social environment, and peer pressure comes along with the social atmosphere. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in with others leads college students to smoke. Daniel Levy, a senior product design major at Columbia


Williams 3 College in Chicago stated, “I only smoke cigarettes to be cool,” “And I know why I can’t quit: I associate active smoking with fun social situations.” (Schulz, 2011). The pressures and influences of college can be overwhelming, making students more susceptible to drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. The antismoking ads could be useful and effective in deterring college students from smoking cigarettes. It is well known by the general public that smoking cigarettes is detrimental to one’s health. Even current smokers are somewhat aware of the negative health effects of their habit. However, smokers often do not believe that the drastic consequences such as those posed in the CDC ad can happen to them. In a phone survey asking current smokers about their habits, it was found that they “…are prone to endorse opinions such as ‘you have to smoke a lot more than I do to put your health at serious risk’, or ‘I have not smoked for enough time to be exposed to smoking related diseases.’” (Peretti-Watel, 351). This survey shows that smokers are in denial about the effects that smoking has on their life. With the graphic imagery and prevalence of these ads, one wonders if they are actually effective. Do the shock factor and the emotional response that is invoked in viewers really prevent people from smoking or cause current smokers to drop their habit? Many studies have been performed to answer this question, and the results are promising. According to TobaccoFreeFlorida.com, “Recent studies suggest televised messages that use graphic images to depict the negative health consequences of smoking and messages that use emotive testimonials… may be among the most effective in promoting cessation and reinforcing smokers’ intentions to quit.” (“Quit Smoking Today”, n.d.). If there is evidence to prove that


Williams 4 these ads can lower the number of smokers, then we should have more of them on television and other media outlets. The series of antismoking ads published by the CDC are graphic in nature but serve a meaningful purpose in attempting to deter people from choosing to smoke. As the mentioned studies show, the shock of seeing the former smoker’s diseased body and the effects of their tobacco use has proved to be an effective tool in keeping people from beginning to smoke. The ads target all age groups and demographics in an effort to end smoking in all types of people whether they be young or old, white or black. I believe that these types of advertisements are a good tool to have in the fight against tobacco use. The ads are a good way to wake people up about the destructive long term effects of smoking. If a person decides to smoke, not only will their health deteriorate, but their whole lifestyle will change as a result of that decision. Smokers do not think about the heart disease or the lung cancer that may come as a result of their habit. They do not think about the possibility of having to breathe through a stoma because they have smoked so much. The CDC’s antismoking advertisements may cause smokers to think twice before picking up another cigarette.


Williams 5 Works Cited Many Colleges Banning Smoking on Campus - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2012, October 3). Home - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/new-public-health/2012/10/many_colleges_bannin.htm Peretti-Watel, P., Constance, J., Guilbert, P., Gautier, A., Beck, F., & Moatti, J. (2007). Smoking Too Few Cigarettes to be at Risk? Smokers' Perceptions of Risk and Risk Denial, a French Survey. Tobacco Control, 16(5), 351-356. Quit Smoking Today. (n.d.). Tobacco Free Florida. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/apps/powerful-anti-smoking-ad-campaigns-work/ Schulz, L. (2011, May 9). Smoking Common for College Students. The Columbia Chronicle, p. 1. “Terrie’s Ad” CDC Streaming Health. http://www.youtube.com/user/CDCStreamingHealth?v=5zWB4dLYChM

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