Vice Squad
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Teen Anti-Smoking Campaigns

The Chicago Sun-Times reports today on a new study about cigarette smoking in PG-13 and PG rated movies. The author of the study would like to see movies that depict smoking slapped with an R-rating. I agree, and movies that show two hours of deplorable, bloody violence, such as a spike getting rammed through the fleshy part of someone's hand should be celebrated as a wholesome family experience. What is wrong with this guy? It is a sad commentary on our society that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) says that movies with frank and honest discussions or depictions of human sexuality are inappropriate, and often must either be edited for American audiences or be faced with the kiss of commercial death: an NC-17 rating, while the bloodiest of films can often get by with a PG-13 seal of approval. Now we want to add cigarette smoking to the list of things we're going to be prudish about in the movies?

Personally, I don't smoke cigarettes but I'm thinking of taking it up to protest against the anti-tobacco ads on t.v. I can't stand campaigns like "The Truth" that try so hard to be cool by "exposing" evil tobacco companies to teens. I think everyone can agree that Big Tobacco is not going to win philanthropist of the year. We all know that smoking is bad for you, and we've known it for a long time. We know Big Tobacco puts stuff in cigarettes to make them addictive. Do we really need to be spending millions of dollars on television ads and whiny propaganda like this bit from

"It's tough going out there day after day infecting the populace with the truth about the tobacco industry. Some days it seems like it's all a conspiracy and the whole world's against you."

The money that funds this campaign comes from the settlement Big Tobacco reached with the states. I think we might be able to find a better use for these resources.

South Park had a great episode a while back where the kids were subjected to a school program presented by "Butt Out", a teen anti-smoking singing group. The group sang a ridiculous song about the dangers of smoking, and acted like complete fools. The group told the South Park kids that they shouldn't smoke, and if they didn't, they could grow up to be just like the members of "Butt Out". Cut to the next scene where the kids are frantically smoking cigarettes in an effort to not end up like the Butt Out crew.

I'd like to see some empirical data a few years from now on whether or not these teen anti-smoking campaigns had a positive or negative effect on teen smoking rates.

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