Monday, March 26, 2012

First Federal Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign

Perhaps you’ve seen the hard-hitting anti-smoking ad featuring “Terri”, who offers her tips for getting ready to go out in the morning. It might surprise you that the sponsor of the ad is neither a state government nor an anti-cancer organization such as the American Cancer Society. It’s the U.S. government. The ads are part of a campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to directly address the high rate of tobacco addiction in the U.S. This is the first time the government has ever gotten directly involved in anti-smoking advertising.

The government is spending just $54 million on the campaign this year - less than a tenth of what is spent on anti-smoking campaigns by the states. The CDC has been recommending even higher rates of spending for tobacco prevention and control by the states for years, and the states just haven’t been able to reach the CDC’s spending targets. In fact, state spending on anti-smoking campaigns declined by 11% in 2011. Perhaps that’s why the CDC felt it needed to get into the anti-smoking ad business itself, instead of leaving it to the states.

The new CDC-funded ads are more graphic than what we’re used to, and somewhat controversial. Smokers have called them demeaning. What do you think – will they have any greater impact on smokers (or potential smokers) than the ads of the past?

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