What FDA's new cigarette warnings should say
Tobacco is a dirty weed. I like it. It satisfies no normal need. I like it. It makes you thin, it makes you lean, It takes the hair right off your bean. It's the worst darn stuff I've ever seen. I like it.
--G. L. Hemminger, 1915
I love these ad campaigns. First, because they've been doing similar things in Europe (and Canada, or, as I like to call it, Cheap, Knock-Off Edition Europe) for years. I was hoping, if we ever copied something that Europe did, it would be the metric system (it makes me think I'm tall and driving fast!), or the cuisine, or the ability to be deeply moved by movies with subtitles. But so far, the only things we have imported are things like a confusing health-care system in which the government is heavily involved and, now, these cigarette warning labels.
The FDA did a bang-up job with the images, though. The pictures are great. They are so terrifying that they make me want to start smoking, just so I can look at them and be scared into quitting! I love the graphic of the mother blowing smoke onto her infant child. "Here, Denny," she seems to be saying. "Have some smoke. I assume that Nicotine is a vitamin."
Also, how does the recruiting process for these PSA pictures work? I imagine there's some sort of open call for models. "Yes," I picture the judges saying. "You look like a child who has been harmed by tobacco use." Or maybe people just list it on their resume: "34, 36, 38; 6'4"; people frequently tell me that I look like someone whose smoking habit has given him a stroke and/or heart disease." I certainly hope these are actors; if not, can you imagine your heirs gathering at your wake? "The mere sight of Grandma is turning thousands of teens off smoking!"
Also, whose teeth are those? They are disgusting.
If you really want people to stop smoking, I think you should play not on their sense of disgust but on the misconceptions that might lead them to smoke in the first place. My grandmother, a lifelong smoker (so far!) maintains that she started smoking because if anyone got fresh with you, you could fight him off with your lit cigarette, thereby protecting your virtue and looking cool while you were doing it. At least I think this is what she said. (Hi, Grandma! Thanks for reading.)
In general, I hate campaigns that say "With the money you spend on this each year, you could, for instance, buy a Louis Vuitton bag!" Usually, this makes me feel vindicated. "Wow, for the price of that ominous-looking bag, I could drink coffee every day for a year!" But for cigarettes, I think this could be poignant. "With what you spend on cigarettes, you could buy a life-saving throat surgery!" The elements of irony would be really cutting.
Here are a few other slogans -- and some graphic images, as opposed to the other kind of image. You know the old saying: more flies are caught with honey than with creepy pictures of old men clutching random body parts.
Smoking: There is something on fire! You are holding it!
Smoking: Those cool guys behind your middle school are actually wards of the state.
Smoking: Your coat will always smell like the inside of a dive bar.
My proposed label:
Smoking: There is only one place you can do this in all NYC, and it is a one square-foot space already occupied by a creepy homeless man.
Smoking: Ulysses S. Grant smoked 20 cigars a day. He is widely regarded as a mediocre president whose administration was plagued by corruption.
Smoking: The other people who do this are often truck drivers.
| November 10, 2010; 12:31 PM ET
Categories: Bad Advice, Petri, Worst Things Ever | Tags: FDA, cigarettes
Save & Share: Previous: Mulligans: Chris Christie's lavish tastes; Michelle Obama gets touchy-feely
Next: My son is a cyborg -- 'My Son is Gay' and parenting in the digital village
Posted by: divtune | November 10, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: james95 | November 10, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: divtune | November 10, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse