Anti-Smoking Campaign Doesn’t Mess Around




It looks like the heavy guns are out. It’s been decades since the dangers associated with smoking have been realized and revealed. Yet there’s still a fair number of smokers out there.

A few years ago our hometown of Austin banned smoking in public places. This was a huge issue and I clearly remember my husband and I angrily (or I was angry at least) spouting off against each other. Just to note, he’s not a smoker but he was taking the viewpoint of a business owner or, as he’s prone to do, playing devil’s advocate. Once I became aware of Austin’s new guidelines, I started noticing that this wasn’t a random piece of legislation: cities across the globe started issuing their own smoking ban. In fact, even though these smoking bans are relatively new and aren’t found everywhere, I sometimes think of a cigarette as I do a video cassette — an artifact whose time has come and most certainly gone.

Of course I’m totally wrong. I happen to have pretty straight-laced friends who, like myself, are constantly surrounded by kids. A margarita here and there are about as dangerous as we get when it comes to having a good time. In other words we’ve nixed smoking habits and social smoking. But that’s my small world. According to The National Cancer Institute, 20.8% of adults in the United States smoked cigarettes in 2006. The percentages are greater for teens. So the problem remains.

Now some may question my wording… the problem remains. I understand that some don’t consider smoking to be a problem but when, according to NCI statistics, 38,000 deaths are caused by second-hand smoke, I think problem is the correct term to use. After all, a casual puff to you may be somebody else’s funeral.

Considering the still current dangers of smoking, I was intrigued by anti-smoking efforts from Brazil. According to Brazil adopts stronger pictures on cigarette packets in anti-smoking campaign, an article in BMJ, this country is attempting to lower smoking rates by appealing to smokers’ emotions.

Since 2001, Brazil has placed emotion-evoking pictures on cigarette boxes. Recently they upped the ante by using pictures that were found to be more powerful than the previous pictures.

Not sure what to expect, I took a look at the pictures. Now, the text is in Portuguese so I could only make out a few words in the captions but, even without words, the pictures were hard to swallow. There’s a range of images, from a curled up premature baby to a child standing over his father’s (presumably) sick bed to lungs full of cigarettes. Even to me, the images are powerful… and I’m not even trying to ignore them long enough to light up another one.

Pictures are available from Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Cancer.

Reference

Morales, K. (2008). Brazil adopts stronger pictures on cigarette packets in antismoking campaign. BMJ, 336(7657), 1333-1333. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39608.374340.DB

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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