Too Extreme

Opinions Columnist | Public relations senior

Cigarette commercials should not be so extreme.

Although the harmful effects of cigarette smoke are not exaggerated, modern anti-cigarette campaign advertisements usually pick the worst-case scenarios. To add insult to injury, advertisers plaster the faces of the victims all over television. They may see it as a warning, but these acts can prove themselves annoying scare tactics to smokers.

By now, every American citizen should know cigarette smoke could kill you. What they may not know is exactly how much is potentially damaging. Cigarette commercials usually give the impression of instant harm, as if a single cigarette could send your health spiraling out of control. Advertisers should explain that extreme effects only come from years of cigarette abuse. A pack a day for 20 years could definitely plug a lung, but a single loose cigarette on Square nights is perfectly fine.

Advertisers should also respect the freedom of others to do as they wish. People who regularly purchase cigarettes are well aware of the effects they have on the body. Even with that being said, they continue to smoke them. The message against cigarettes is certainly noble, but personal responsibility is the only thing truly stopping people from smoking. Each new story about the toxic effects is worse than the last, but the victims themselves are at fault.

If people across the world continue to smoke cigarettes, the commercials are proving themselves inefficient. Advertisers go to great lengths to pull up the nastiest details about smoking as well as various worst-case scenarios. If people everywhere are still smoking, the message is not getting through to them. A drastic change in the manner in which the message is delivered may yield better results.

If anything, advertisers should live and let live. As I said before, people are going to live their lives the way they choose, even with the possibility of dire consequences. Airing a few less anti-cigarette commercials would not disservice anyone. Advertisers may think they are helping people by showing a man with a hole in his throat but are in fact irritating smokers. In a way, they are using the tragic stories of actual victims to scare smokers into quitting. Today’s anti-cigarette commercials may very well be considered modern propaganda. They are predicting the worst possible outcome for going against their beliefs or feelings, urging people to change their ways.

If advertisers wish to have a larger impact on the anti-smoking campaign, they should change the way their message is delivered. Smokers understand the risk they take when they smoke. Advertisers are welcome to educate people on the potential effects of cigarettes but should not try to scare them away from the activity. Healthy or not, no one wants to see a man pull his teeth out on cable television.