Keepin’ it Real: Scared Straight

Posted on 02 April 2014 by admin

Opinions Editor Jake Hunn argues that anti-smoking campaigns are ineffective

Jake Hunn

Jake Hunn

Opinions Editor

Every week a new anti-smoking ad makes its way onto the air that seems to directly compare cigarettes to an annoying estranged family member. One commercial portrays a cigarette as a four inch tall, poorly dressed man who demands, “When I say pause the movie, we pause the movie” as he drags his victim out the front door of a middle class suburban home. Such details are important because they reveal the methods by which anti-smoking campaigns hope to deter teens from smoking.

The idea is that by establishing cigarettes as a villain for middle class teens, kids will be less inclined to smoke due simply to a desire not to be controlled. However, the desire to fit in and relieve the omnipresent anxiety of adolescence is a far stronger and more genuine pressure being applied to teens that turn to cigarettes for relief.

Nicotine addiction is too strong a force to be cured by cute taglines and clever characterization. Despite what the media seems to believe as true, a hash tag never led anyone to quit smoking. For smokers, there is a chemical dependency that needs to be satisfied in order to achieve even a feeling of normalcy.

Proper treatment of the situation such as the use of nicotine patches, hypnosis, or quitting cold turkey by substituting the addiction for another vice are needed. Not to mention, most smokers are already aware of the effects smoking has on their bodies.

The methods currently being used by anti-smoking campaigns are not only ineffective on a fundamental level; but also seem to insult the intelligence and maturity of adults who are old enough to legally purchase tobacco products. It is hard to imagine that anyone aged 18 or older has seen one of these commercials and thought, “Wow! How neat, it’s time to quit smoking cigarettes immediately”— much like a young boy might choose the
Luke Skywalker action figure over the Darth Vader one simply because the media has portrayed Vader as the villain. The demographic that these ads are targeting have for more developed minds that make decisions based on many factors not limited to the youthful desire to “fight the good fight”. Anti-smoking campaings need to take more effective approaches.

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