This weekend I stumbled across one of those semi-new paid ads on Instagram.
I have always been perplexed by the idea of anti-smoking campaigns. At it’s core it seems senseless. If smoking had to stop tomorrow I could think of 100 better ways to end it than the “#squadless rap”. Now I’m not advocating a ban on cigarettes (full disclosure- I’m a smoker myself), I’ve just always found the love/hate relationship towards cigarettes by the government to be very intriguing. Who is on whose side? If the government wants to end smoking, is it really the tobacco companies stopping them? And who the hell is paying for these terrible Instagram ads??
First off I need to address the stupidity of that ad and the Truth campaign in general. In short- they are talking to kids and smokers like they are idiots. To the Truth campaigners: This will literally make Instagram users want to smoke a cigarette in disdain for your ad (at least that will be their mental excuse).
Caution: May Cause More Cancer Than Actually Smoking
Here is the actual truth-
- Forget the current smokers, they will not be influenced by ads. Only offended. It’s their habit and they will have to want to stop before they can. Talking down to them will not help. All the best to them.
- For the kids who still have hope, the best ‘truth’ we can give them, is that if they buy a pack they have become pawns to the conglomerate market of Big Tobacco.
It’s amazing people still don’t realize that kids love defying authority. ‘Health teachers say- don’t smoke it’s bad! Kids say- Screw that, smoking is cool!’
Turn this around. In this case the solution is right in front of you. The real truth is even worse than the evil picture you are trying to create. Just show them who the actual authority is. Teach them about how 4 companies conned an entire country into paying to shorten their own lives. Teach them about the dollars and years they spent ingraining smoking into American culture. And tell them when they’re 18, they are legally allowed to join in and become one of these pawns and make some rich man richer. Tell the kids these facts and these facts alone. I bet the amount of new smokers would plummet. Hell, it might even be enough to convince current smokers.
What do we have to lose?
My generation tried showing gruesome pictures of dirty lungs and holes in singers throats. This didn’t work. So you think BS stats about smokers earning 20% less will stop current smokers? Are the PSA creators so out of touch that they believe people are stupid enough to think their salaries will increase 20% if they quit smoking today? Sure there may be some convoluted truth to the stat but it’s been simplified so extensively that it is now at best false, and at worst, offensive.
It’s such a bad ad it makes me think there are deeper motives. Is the governments hand so deep in both cookie jars that they are now purposefully creating terrible a terrible campaign that will push people towards smoking? I’m not sure. That’s how bad this ad is.
The truth about “Truth”? It’s paid for by cigarette companies. They were forced to pay it by the government. Why does the government force them to pay for it? Too many people smoking creates a burden on healthcare costs. Why not just ban them? Selling cigarettes generates too much sales tax to throw it all away at once. So what are we left with? A juggling act in congress. They’re not sure if smoking just plain hurts the country (sales tax just going back into healthcare) or if they can end up making a profit. So, for now, they’re just doing both!
You can read more about the government/Big Tobacco circle jerk here on Wikipedia.
I’m going to wrap this up it’s almost lunch- if you want kids to stop smoking, lets try telling them the actual truth.