NPR's On The Media

Graphic Smoking Ads

Cigarette companies have targeted teenagers for years with their cigarette packaging. Now, the other end of the spectrum is gaining exposure.

Last week’s On the Media discussed the use of graphic images of the effects of cigarette smoking. Some people have argued that if they want to smoke, let them smoke. These are not the people that the graphic advertisements are directed towards. The startling ads are directed towards people who are impressionable and who have recently delved into a smoking habit.

Those behind the graphic images explained what the images are actually of. They explained that pictures of death and caskets are rarely used. Death is not a motivator. Their studies have shown that people accept the fact that everyone passes away at some point. Instead, pictures of the disabled and the disfigured command much more attention. One advertisement includes a man who has suffered three heart attacks. He never thought he would not be able to play basketball with his son. The personal stories and the realities of the limitations put on smokers hit home. The ads have gotten 50,000 people to quit smoking.

As a side note, the podcast included the voice of Mary, a woman who is disfigured due to smoking. On the Media included a voice clip. The raspy, barely decipherable sounds from Mary were so startling I shut off my ITunes. Now, if cigarette ads could include voice clips, I’m sure this campaign would be even more successful. While the images can be hard to look and startling enough to deter a smoker, I think other senses should be targeted, too.

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