If you’ve been watching videos on the web lately, you’ve likely encountered the commercials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that target tobacco use. The commercials are part of the CDC’s 12-week ad campaign, urging smokers to quit, and discouraging non-smokers not to pick up the habit. Most of these ads profile the lives of people who have given up using tobacco products (usually cigarettes) because of severe health problems related to their tobacco use. One ad features a woman who has to speak through a small microphone installed in her throat because of cancers that have rendered speech impossible. Another one features a woman lying on a hospital bed, describing the state of her health after suffering a stroke that occurred due to excessive cigarette smoking.
The CDC’s commercials are part of a campaign to discourage people from using cigarettes due to the obvious hazards involved with smoking. The media have picked up on the new advertisements because of their intense imagery and bleak depiction of the lives of reformed smokers. There’s no denying that these advertisements have an impact, but some are questioning if they go too far to carry a message that seems self-evident: cigarettes are bad for you.
The tobacco industry and its products
Tobacco is a huge industry that makes huge profit margins off their products, cigarettes and otherwise. For example, the market capitalization (a rough estimate of net worth) for Philip Morris, one of the most profitable companies in the business, stands at around $150 billion. The profits that these companies make are astronomical, and they put much of that capital back into advertising for their products, whether they’re smokeless items (chewing tobacco or snuff) or cigarettes.
A recently published report from the Federal Trade Commission details just how much money the tobacco industry spent on advertising in 2008 alone. According to the report, the tobacco spent over $9 billion on advertisements in 2008, a number which amounts to tens of millions of dollars a day in spending. To put that in perspective, the CDC ad campaign costs the government roughly $50 million for the whole year.
A few fast facts about tobacco use from the CDC website explain its detrimental health effects in quick fashion. Smoking (and second hand smoke from cigarettes) dramatically increases the chance of having life threatening illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and major respiratory problems. What’s more, the facts claim that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death. That fact struck me the most, as it made the reasons to quit painfully clear: if you don’t smoke, there’s a significantly smaller chance that you’d suffer any of these health problems.
The efficiency of such an ad campaign has yet to be seen.
How do you feel about the CDC’s new anti-tobacco ads?
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.