Anti-smoking ads are smoke screens to truth

By Liu Fei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-05 10:13
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I have recently had daily exposure to an anti-smoking ad outside a bus stop on my way to work. It shows a blacked lung, presumably from smoking, and says "quit now, for your own health". I am not moved, and I don't think the ad works.

Why does society crack down on smoking? To protect the health of smokers? Probably, but in a hotel, smoking is not allowed in the lobby but allowed in rooms. That would make no sense unless the guests are more physically fragile in the lobby than in the room. I don't think that's true.

To let non-smokers have better environments? Yes. No cigarettes are allowed to be lit in public places like restaurants, shopping malls or classrooms because there are enough people in those places who don't smoke and also don't want to breath smoke. Their need of a smoke-free environment outweighs the need of the smokers.

Smoking is bad to your health. Smoke fumes contain multiple carcinogens that could cause lung and cardiac diseases.

But as smoking is positively correlated to lung cancer, so is drinking to liver cancer, meat-eating to cardiac diseases, vehicle driving to injuries and so on. Some of these activities are much more dangerous than smoking.

If it's really for health reasons, there should be equal numbers of ads on anti-drinking, anti-meat eating and anti-driving, but there aren't.

On that note I have to conclude that anti-smoking ads are hypocritical and ineffective. While the anti-smoking campaign is not about health, the ads make it look like one.

The strategy of current ads is to demonize smoking in hope that the innate fear of death would scare the tobacco users out of smoking. But smokers are not kids.

If we really wish to cut down on tobacco use, we need to rethink the approach. People care about what others think, and ads should be made to tell smokers that their intimacy with tobacco has alienated them from their friends. The public will always listen to reason.