Increasingly, North American smokers have had to observe government policies or face severe social backlash, if not financial penalties. Go on. Try smoking at your desk at the office and let me know how it goes for you. Media: 1, Smoking: 0. Right? I’m not so sure.
I don’t believe that it’s about education anymore when it comes to anti-smoking ad campaigns. People know smoking is bad for you – that message is so pervasive that it’s crept into our subconscious and is now part of the zeitgeist. So what’s the deal? Why are 1 in 5 teenagers between 13 and 15 years old across the world still puffing away? We know the usual suspects are still at work, like following in our parents’ footsteps, our immediate environment and peer pressure. Along side of that, I strongly suspect that anti-smoking ads, namely those sponsored by tobacco companies not only fail to deter young people from smoking, but in fact encourage them to take up the habit. Nothing is more alluring than the thing you’re not supposed to do. And that allure increases the more often you’re reminded not to do it.
What’s the bottom line? The more we talk about the perils of smoking the more we remember to light up. Peer-reviewed studies show teenagers are heavily influenced by tobacco advertising – positive or negative. Whether it’s the objective or not, the product of most anti-smoking advertising now is simply keeping the topic of smoking on the brain. Young people get exposed to more than four youth-targeted ads per month and a study published in the states that there was a 12% increase in the probability of Grade 10 and 12 students becoming smokers if they watched prevention ads – particularly those aimed at their parents. The message of most of those ads being that parents should talk to their children about smoking, and no reason other than “being a teenager” is offered for why youths should not smoke.
Is today’s anti-smoking advertising at all effective or is it simply keeping smoking top of mind? Are our attempts at discouraging our youth from smoking by using the media making it too enticing to resist? Anyone else feel like we should be shooting the messenger because this time it is their fault?
Some great anti-smoking ads – http://anti-smoking-ads.blogspot.com/
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Chris Patheiger is a Vice President at Redux Media, a leading international online publisher network of top-quality, specialty websites and media representation firms. Chris is responsible for Communications, Sales and E-Publisher of TheMediaPath.com online advertising Blog. He can be reached at chris AT reduxmedia.com