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chyna's avatar

What do you think of the new graphic anti-smoking commercials?

Asked by chyna (33907 points ) March 30th, 2012

They have been showing very graphic anti-smoking commercials on television of people that have lost their legs, their fingers, their larynx, etc. from smoking. Do you think these commercials will help people quit smoking? Do you think they go too far?

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35 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Nope. They make me tune out and light a cigarette.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think they go too far, as people flock to movie theaters to watch people get cut in half with chainsaws. This is just another advertising tactic and nothing more. If they reach at least one person that’s what matters.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I really don’t pay attention to the television enough to notice. So it’s not really working for me.

gailcalled's avatar

As a former smoker, I found them powerful and realistic, since they use real people and not models wearing prosthetics.

You could make the case that they are not ads but mini-documentaries.

tom_g's avatar

I’m more convinced by reasonable, evidence-based argument than by propaganda. But I don’t care that this type of thing exists. I don’t smoke, but are there really people who will say, “yeah, I know that smoking will cause impotence, make me look like a leather sofa before I’m 30, make me smell like sh*t and die an early death, and cost me a ton of money, but it’s worth it!” – then see the commercial and think, “oops, maybe I should quit”?

Coloma's avatar

The fear factor never influences bad habits, besides, for every smoker that gets a nasty disease there are others that never do. It’s all about genetics and people don’t let go of bad habits without some serious internal motivation. I don’t agree with these graphic ad campaigns anymore than I agree with PETA flashing their graphic images on the public.
Anyone that smokes already KNOWS they are risking a smoking related illness, and, 15% of lung cancers occur in people that never smoked.

I say live and let live, or live and let die. What others choose to do is none of our business as long as they aren’t blowing smoke in your face let smokers smoke!

Dutchess_III's avatar

They are an absolute load of crap. You could do the same thing with overweight people. Show people who’ve lost limbs due to diabetes or whatever. It’s time to just back TFO and spend advertising money on important things.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I think more people need to see this kind of thing .. not so easy to just ignore.

Sometimes scare “tactics” are what it takes to stop kids from starting to smoke and get die hard smokers to realize they’re not immune from the bad effects of smoking no matter how hard they try to justify their habit.

Smoking is a nasty habit with even nastier side effects…

Facade's avatar

I think people need to experience reality more often. I haven’t seen the commercials, but they sound like a good idea.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I used to think it didn’t matter what people did on their own time, in their own homes, to their own bodes. But I have since changed my opinion.

If you have health care, what you do does affect me! The odds of a 1 pack a day smoker getting lung cancer are 20 times that of a non-smoker.* Sure, 15% of lung cancer cases are in people who never smoked, but 85% of them are!
If you choose to smoke, you are forcing others to subsidize a habit that is totally under your control. If you are willing to sign a waiver refusing health care for lung cancer, then feel free to smoke away. Help the tobacco industry. I’ll even offer you a light. But until you sign that waiver, I don’t want to pay for something you can control.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay for all lung caner cases. If you are in the unlucky 15% of non-smokers who get lung cancer, then by all means you deserve all the help we can offer.

I am getting tired of paying for health care for people who make lifestyle choices knowing others will have to pay for their mistakes. If you want to engage in drug use or eat a box of doughnuts every day, go right ahead. Just accept responsibility. Admit that you are doing it to yourself and sign the health care waiver so others do not have to carry your load.
Maybe they can put the health care waiver card in every pack.

Will the ads make a difference. I doubt it. Telling people they will have to pee into a cup to determine nicotine concentration before getting treated for lung cancer would.

* Dr. Renato Martins, the head of lung cancer medical oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

tedd's avatar

Not at all in favor of it. The warnings are big on the products already. The education in schools/media/etc is out there showing you how awful these things can be for you…. If you still choose to do them, so be it. WTF do I need to show images that would get certain movies switched to an R rating for?

tedd's avatar

@LuckyGuy I see your point, but smokers pay higher insurance rates to offset their habit. Many of them are uninsurable past a certain age, specifically because they smoked. So I don’t really buy into the it effecting my insurance rates thing.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy True, but…smokers and overweight people wear their vices on their sleeve, while we are also paying for alcoholics with liver disease and chronically angry people with high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Quitting smoking is extremely HARD, as someone ( Mark Twain?? said, ” Quitting is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times.” I don’t think that smokers that are stuck in their addiction should be treated like pariahs, it is what it is and smoking is no better or worse than overweight, alcoholism, chronic anger issues, or anything else. I’d rather pay for health care for a smoker than for perks for prisoners.

I think people should have compassion for smokers, it IS THE F—King HARDEST habit to kick, I know firsthand. ;-)

King_Pariah's avatar

As a smoker, I frankly don’t care.

marinelife's avatar

Scary. I don’t know how effective they are.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@tedd Smoker’s rates are higher but not enough to fully cover the extra expense. Most of it is still spread across the entire pool.
Also even if they do not have health insurance they still will be treated. The expense will be “absorbed” by the hospital but we all know what that means – Payers will pick up the tab one way or the other.

@Coloma It’s a good thing i am not “King” . I’d give everyone one free throw and then you’re on your own. If a doc says you need to lose weight and you don’t your rates double. If you are an alcoholic and have been diagnosed with liver disease you’d better not be found drinking again. Your rate will double.

It’s easy for me to say. What can they do to me, install and remove another prostate? ;-)

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t believe that scare tactics are all that effective. Most people will probably just convince themselves that “it won’t happen to me.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@LuckyGuy My husband and I pay $200 a month more. That’s quite a bit of money for that one bad habit.

Coloma's avatar

Well…better to be a good person with a bad habit than a bad person with good habits. lol
The motive is to be good people with good habits, in an ideal world…. ;-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why don’t they spend that money showing pictures of hideously disfigured people who were hit by a texting drivers or drunk drivers??

Coloma's avatar

—@Dutchess_III Right! Pick your poison I always say, there’s plenty of it.

filmfann's avatar

I hope they are effective. I would love both my daughters to quit smoking.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Dutchess_III Physicists and Engineers love Fermi problems. You use data that is available and make estimates for what is not. With sufficiently large number of variables the errors cancel out resulting in a surprisingly accurate result.

Fermi Problem: Calculate how much more a smoker should pay to cover the cost of smoke induced lung cancer.
Assumptions:
300,000,000 people in the US.
Half are adults ->150,000,000
16.1 % of adults are smokers From UNEC site. Call it 1/6 for easy math (FEM) = 25,000,000 smokers
15% of lung cancer cases are in non-smokers, therefore 85% are. FEM let’s call it 100% (That will give us an error of 7%. – Ignore for now. )
200,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed every year, half are fatal within one year.
Health care cost for smoking related lung cancer is $96B. FEM call it 100B per year. 162B if lost productivity is included. Let’s ignore that.
Out of 25M smokers, 200,000 will get lung cancer. 1 chance in 125 with half dying in one year.
$100B heath care / 200,000 lung cancer = $500,000 per lung cancer patient.
Let’s do a sense check for health care cost: chemo $100k, radiation $100k, surgery $150k, therapy, drugs $80,000 = $430,000 per person (Close enough to $500,000)
Odds of smoker getting lung cancer 1/125 from above. Odds of nonsmoker ¼200
Average annual cost of treatment divided by odds = $500,000 / 125 = $4000 per year or $333 per month per smoker
Correct 7% error from fourth assumption above: 333.x 1.07= $356 per month

Fermi Result: Ignoring productivity losses and cost of premature death, the average cost of health care for a smoker is $356 per month more than that of a non-smoker.
So, if you are only paying $200 more, that means others are paying $156 for you. Divide by the number people paying for health care, let’s say half (FEM). That means everyone is paying 1/10,000 cent for you every month. You’re welcome. ;-)

(Not too far off from the number you gave.) Feel free to use your own assumptions and method. I intentionally did not cite sources as that would bias other people’s results to match mine. Fermi problems are fun, don’t you think?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I just saw this article in the paper. Smoking cessation ad effective

The campaign cost $54 million so if it encourages only 110 people to quit it will have paid for itself.
The smoking cessation line usually gets about 14,500 calls per week. Last week it received 33,000 – an increase of 18,500. Of the increase, if only 1 person out of 150 who call actually quit, the ad campaign will have more than paid for itself. In a year we will know if it was a good investment.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Well that is positive. :-)

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma Surprising isn’t it? Until @chyna asked this question I never gave it a thought. I’m glad I ran through the numbers myself and they make sense. I wish someone else would do a similar exercise so they can check my numbers. I’m will to bet they’re in the ball park.

Also I was surprised that the odds were 1 /125 of getting lung cancer and half of those people dying in a year – and how expensive it is to treat it for that year. Yikes! I had no idea.
Do you think smokers would agree to pay for “lung cancer coverage” for $356 per month more? Or they can have conventional nonsmoker coverage at conventional prices but be ineligible for chemo, radiation, and surgery for lung cancer?

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy I think that anyone paying for their healthcare should have full coverage regardless of their habits. That’s what they are paying for, coverage regardless of habits. Any catastrophic illness is costly, I just don’t think that smoking is any different than all the other choices, vices, that can lead to illness. If smokers are going to be denied care in the event of a smoking related illness then so should alcoholics, the morbidly obese and those that are diabetic and refuse to change their habits.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma You wrote:“If smokers are going to be denied care in the event of a smoking related illness then so should alcoholics, the morbidly obese and those that are diabetic and refuse to change their habits.” As medical care gets more expensive it might come to that.
I was shocked when I saw the costs involved. One estimate said 162 billion dollars in medical and lost productivity costs. If there are 150 million taxpaying adults in the US, that means they are paying $1000 each, for smoker’s lung cancer that could have been preventable if they quit. I don’t know what the numbers are for pie-hole obesity (not genetic). I hope someone here works it out. Alcoholism, too. Drug use too. Those are life style choices.
I figure if you have enough control to light a cigarette, stuff your own face, open a bottle of booze or inject a needle, you should have the control to write the check for significantly higher health care premiums.
OK, I just made a suggestion to control medical costs that is probably not popular and easy to criticize. I’m open to other suggestions. What would you do to control costs?

Supacase's avatar

They bother me. My grandfather had a laryngectomy, so my reaction is personal. I’m not sure I can have an objective opinion.

chyna's avatar

@LuckyGuy Maybe a question for Fluther?

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy I don’t have any answers. People get sick from a lot of things, ex smokers can still get cancer decades after quitting. I think it’s unethical to deny people of compassionate care regardless of their habits. America was built on tobacco. haha
We could look at it from the perspective that those that make really unhealthy lifestyle choices are going to die younger and ultimately save money in other areas like long term elderly care and medicare. :/

LuckyGuy's avatar

Check it out! There are articles in the news today stating quite a few companies already doing something similar to what we were talking about.
Insurance Premiums tied to checkups
They use a carrot approach instead of a stick: “Those who don’t smoke, aren’t obese and whose blood pressure and cholesterol fall below specific levels get to shave as much as $2,000 off their annual health insurance deductibles.”

From my calculations above, that number should be much higher – but it’s a start.

Leanne1986's avatar

I have never smoked and when I see ads like that I always feel glad that I don’t. However, most of the smokers I know don’t seem phased by these ads and continue to smoke.

chyna's avatar

I have asked a few of my friends about these commercials, some are smokers, some are not, and all of them say they either turn the channel or get up and walk out on them. So I don’t know if they are effective or not.

Ron_C's avatar

I quit a long time ago bur while I was smoking, I bought cigarettes in Singapore. Every pack has a picture showing things like diseased lungs and other damage organs from smoking. I just turned the pack the other way so that I couldn’t see the picture.

It took a real life accident where I almost choked to death to make me quick. Even now 6 years later, I have occasional cravings for tobacco. All it take is the memory of the hospital visit to make the desire go away.

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