COMMENTARY | Reuters reports that on March 15, health officials have released graphic new advertisements that depict the consequences of smoking. The new advertisements are being released as part of a new $54 million anti-smoking campaign which is aimed at deterring people from starting the habit. As a former smoker, I believe that these advertisements are not going to work in really helping people quit the habit, or deter them from the habit in the first place.
Although I believe the advertisements are a great way to depict the real dangers of smoking, it is not going to stop people, specifically teenagers, from starting the habit. Teenagers often have a mentality that they are invincible, that nothing bad will ever happen to them, and they really do not pay attention to what older adults have to say. As a teenager, I began smoking cigarettes, and although I had witnessed my grandparents on both sides succumb to cancer from smoking, I still did it anyway. My thought process was that we are all going to die eventually, the government does not know what is right for me, and I used smoking as a way to rebel against my parents. The fact of the matter is, when you are a teenager, you do not really think about what might happen to you in 30 or 40 years, since the brain is not fully developed in the teenage years.
The advertisements are nothing new either, considering these types of scare tactics have been used to warn people of the dangers of methamphetamine use, and the effects of other illegal drugs. Those types of advertisements did little to deter people from using hardcore drugs, and since cigarettes are legal, it is going to do even less to deter most people from the habit. In the world today, almost everyone has known someone that has died from cancer, usually related to smoking, and it really does not make people stop. Quitting smoking is a very hard thing to do, and it took me many tries to become successful, so seeing an advertisement on television is not enough of a mental push to get someone to quit. In order to be successful at smoking cessation, someone has to have the desire to quit, and be mentally prepared to quit.
The health officials think that 50,000 people are going to quit because of these new scary advertisements, and that is just being unrealistic. These advertisements have the ability to scare younger children away from tobacco products, but for a smoker that has been smoking for 30 years; these advertisements are not going to be the final straw. I think that 50,000 people is too large of an estimate, given the fact that taxes have went up significantly on tobacco products the last 10 years, and there are still numerous people that are willing to pay the extra money.
Myself, Personal Opinion and Experience
Julie Steenhuysen, “Ad campaign shows smoking’s scary side”, Reuters