Monday, January 29, 2007

Whudafuxup with Anti-smoking Ads?

I'm really getting sick of these anti-smoking commercials. I understand that smoking is bad for you, and it's good to make sure that people know about it. However, I think these anti-smoking groups have gotten a little too overzealous. I rarely watch tv anymore without seeing several of these things, sometimes multiples during the same commercial break. I ask you, how ADD-ridden would my brain have to be to see an anti-smoking ad, then actually need to see another one within the next 60 seconds to avoid forgetting about it?

Most of them aren't even ads for anti-smoking products like patches or gum. Most of them are just messages telling you to quit. It's not a product, it's a suggestion about lifestyle choice. I realize that smoking is bad for you, but it's still ultimately an individual's decision to smoke or not. They couldn't get away with that for any other lifestyle choice. If I started a multi-million dollar ad campaign telling people to not eat Hot Pockets, I think someone would get a little skeptical. I'd never do that anyway. Unhealthy or not, I love my Hot Pockets.

What bothers me the most, though, is not the frequency of the ads, but the content of them. Anti-smoking ads have recently moved away from being informative, and opted more for shock value and horror, trying to scare people out of smoking. Seriously, I understand smoking is unhealthy. I don't need to see a blackened lung sitting in a tray. I don't need to see some old guy with an oxygen mask and a huge yellow scar down his back. I don't need to see the cowboy with the hole in his neck singing about tobacco. I don't need to see severed limbs in trash cans with little signs saying "cigarettes kill more people than there are trash cans in New York." I don't need to see piles of dog shit on the street with little signs stuck in them saying "cigarettes have the same stuff in them." I don't need to see fat hairy guys getting their backs shaved to... wait, wait, I gotta stop here. I mean, fat guys getting their backs shaved? What the flying fuck?

They also changed the wording of the commercials. They used to be just a suggestion. Like, "you should quit smoking, it's unhealthy." They'd sometimes even just say, "well, okay, if you have to keep smoking, at least step outside so your kids don't breathe the secondhand smoke." There's no more of that any more. They're not suggestions any longer, they're demands. Literally, the most recent anti-smoking commercial I saw just had some old guy with a respirator talking about how much his life sucks, then a little message saying he died last year or something. Then, in huge, Tahoma 72pt bold font, they displayed the words: "QUIT. NOW." I mean, are you kidding me? They're doing everything short of screaming it. "QUIT! NOOOOOW!"

Now, all this is extremely awkward for me to watch. Particularly because I don't smoke. Frankly, I don't think I ever could. I'm too afraid. I'm terrified that as soon as I try to light up, a whole fucking swat team will crash through my window, snatch the cigarette out of my hand, stamp it out on the floor and scream in my face, "Didn't you fucking listen?! Smoking is bad for you! QUIT! NOW!!!" And then they'd taser me for no reason. I think that's the main reason I don't smoke. I don't wanna get tasered.

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