Friday, March 16, 2012

Gutless wonders

The Centers for Disease Control has started a new anti-smoking campaign that relies heavily on shock value. Apparently there's still 20 percent of the American population that either doesn't know smoking is bad for them or just doesn't care.

Why is the CDC apparently pushing the bounds of good taste with its new campaign? Evidently, it works.
The idea behind such ads is to create an image so striking that smokers and would-be smokers will think of it whenever they have an urge to buy a pack of cigarettes, said Glenn Leshner, a University of Missouri researcher who has studied the effectiveness of anti-smoking ads.
Leshner and his colleagues found that some ads are so disturbing that people reacted by turning away from the message rather than listening. So while spots can shock viewers into paying attention, they also have to encourage people that quitting is possible, he said.
This seemed like a great story to run here. After all, 37 percent of high school and university students smoke in Indonesia, and apparently there is no minimum age to buy cigarettes.

Of course, if you're going to run a story about the CDC starting an ad campaign featuring gruesome images of the effects of smoking, it would be best to include one of those images, right? That was my thinking. The decision-making types in the office tonight did like the story, but my chosen image was just too much for them.

Startling, isn't it? That's kind of the point. We ended up using an image of a guy who lost his legs because of Buerger's disease, which was brought on by smoking. Not quite as jarring, or at least if you don't read the print underneath the image.

Would it be churlish of me to point out that every person in the pod tonight was a smoker? Surely not.

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