Collection: Endangers Others
To further motivate people to stop smoking, many agencies initiate advertising campaigns that include messages regarding secondhand smoke. The most common anti-tobacco advertisements focus on how smoking is harmful to the individual smoking, but these advertisements emphasize how smoking also serves to harm others. Innocent bystanders suffer when people around them smoke; around 41,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke, and many others face asthma and heart attacks.1 Some campaigns focus on raising awareness of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and eliciting feelings of guilt by including advertisements with images of smoke surrounding family members.
The effectiveness of advertisements that include messages about secondhand smoke is quite high: “both studies concluded that secondhand smoke messages work well with adolescents.”2 This may be because youth have been experimenting with cigarettes for a shorter amount of time than adult smokers, who, if they have not have had any immediate family members suffer from their smoking, may see the messages as overdramatized. In fact, “a more recent study concluded that messages focusing on smokers’ endangering their family . . . were most effective in producing negative intentions to smoke cigarettes among youth who had previously experimented with cigarettes.”3 Using this technique to target teens has proven to be quite successful–”students rated the perceived effectiveness of secondhand-smoke ad messages as higher than that of messages concerning health risks to smokers or tobacco industry deceptive practices”–but some argue that this success is actually limited: these advertisements raise awareness about secondhand smoke, but do not directly dissuade youth from smoking.4
Nonetheless, one study has found that there are two strategies “effective in reaching all audiences: industry manipulation and secondhand smoke.”5 This means that using secondhand smoke messages in anti-tobacco advertisements is a great way to reach out to a variety of people.