The Burning Truth
A recent campaign, led by the Food and Drug Administration, dubbed, “The Real Cost,” rolled out a series of advertisements beginning Feb. 4, aimed at young tobacco users. It is the first national public education campaign in U.S. history to discourage cigarette smoking. Much like “Rise Above” and “Just Say No” ads aimed at drug abuse, “The Real Cost” features young men and women participating in the consumption of tobacco products with exaggerated, yet sensible, consequences. One such ad, however, had this journalist spinning, as the message seemed misconstrued, ill informed, and unrepresentative of what the ultimate goal for a campaign such as this should reflect.
In a commercial entitled, “Your Skin,” a young woman goes to purchase a pack of menthol cigarettes, a decision, which according to the American Cancer Society, is made daily by 54 percent of smokers ages 12 to 23. The cashier informs her that the money is not enough, prompting the girl to then peel off a section of skin from her face; a gruesome, yet arguably, effective statement. A voiceover then chimes in stating, “What’s a pack of menthols cost? Your smooth skin,” and goes on to say, “Smoking menthols or regular cigarettes causes wrinkles that age you prematurely.” Not to contest this statement, but this message simply misses the mark in more ways than one.
First and foremost, yes, it is proven that cigarettes cause advanced wrinkling, but is this really the main issue here? What does this say about the vanity of our society? That to reach the youth about the negative effects of tobacco we must attack their beauty?
Let’s forget the exponentially increased risks for lung disease, emphysema, asthma and the rest of the associated health related risks, and focus solely on what it might do to your appearance. Really FDA? Not that anyone should trust the government sect responsible for deeming McDonalds as a sensible choice in nutrition, or declaring that a sub sandwich bathed in artificially flavored sauce and stuffed with hormone treated mystery meat is an effective weight loss strategy, but this seems completely convoluted, even for their standards. Freshman at SCC and menthol cigarette smoker, Ian Nadel, responded to the ad saying, “The surgeon generals warning is more informative and threatening than this ad.”
Secondly, lets address the fact that it specifically targets menthol until the last two seconds of the voice over. If you weren’t paying close attention, you might walk away thinking regular cigarettes are less harmful, therefore a safer option. Or at the very least, that if you opt to smoke full flavors you can keep your soft, dewy, youthful skin. For an ad with well intentions, it sure raises a lot of important questions. After viewing the ad, sophomore at Upstate and non-smoker, Regina Ramicone, stated, “That’s the weirdest anti-smoking commercial I’ve ever seen. It makes me want to go buy an anti-aging cream.”
Hey, maybe the FDA is working in conjunction with Olay, who knows? Regardless, this ad commits a number of logical fallacies that I’m sure any former speech 101 student could point out, regardless of their stance on tobacco use.