The American Lung Association's Child Abuse Abuse

The Maryland chapter of the American Lung Association recently commissioned a TV ad that equates smoking around children with child abuse:

The television commercial begins by showing the exterior of a house with the door open. Through the door, you can hear a father yelling viciously at a child. The child is obviously in great peril and terribly fearful.

"No, daddy, no. Stop it!" the child screams. Clearly, the child is being physically beaten and abused.

The camera pans in on the living room, where to the viewer's surprise, there is no beating going on. Instead, a father is smoking while his children sit calmly watching television.

The narrator then states: "Exposing your children to the dangers of secondhand smoke is in fact abuse. A message from the American Lung Association."

The surprising thing is not that an anti-smoking group thinks getting beaten by your father is no worse than being exposed to his secondhand smoke. It's that the national organization, in response to criticism from maverick anti-smoking activist Michael Siegel, pulled the ad (which is why it's no longer available on YouTube) and apologized for it. Here is ALA President John Kirkwood's response to Siegel:

Thank you for bringing the "Abuse" spot to my attention. The spot was produced by an advertising agency for one of our local lung associations who was attempting to increase public awareness about the dangers of second hand smoke. Unfortunately the spot tries to accomplish this objective with a child abuse theme that is both inappropriate and extremely offensive. The spot is disgraceful and it is something that would have never been condoned by the American Lung Association if my office had been aware of it. We have taken immediate action to remove it from You Tube and to halt any further distribution. We extend our profound apologies to everyone for this grievous error.

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  • ||

    This exemplifies why the ALA will never get another dime from me again. Same goes for Amer. Heart Assoc, American Cancer Assoc, etc. (AND why I can't wait to move out of Maryland).

    I don't need to pay NGOs to lobby to restrict my liberty any more than it already is. Yeah, they distanced themsleves, but only because the ad went too far, at least for now.

    Give it a couple years, it will be considered tame and not strong enough of a message.

  • ||

    Dr. Michael Siegel was way out on this one and deserves alot of credit for the ad being pulled. I never thought I would see an organization finally said that they went to far.

    JW - These organizations stopped working to help people and fund research along time ago and now only focus, as you said, on finding new ways to use the government to screw us.

  • ||

    Now that the video has been removed from YouTube, it should be noted that the video never existed, the story never ran, any comments by any lung associations were misperceived, and the whole thing is a damned lie.

  • ||

    I have read Dr. Siegel's blog for a while and I am very impressed by his professionalism. I guess when a Dr. calls the nannies on their shit, they listen, at least a little.

  • ||

    Good on the ALA for pulling it, and good on Siegel for raising a stink.

  • ||

    I'm not quite sure what the problem was, at least with the way the ad was described.

    I doubt anybody is saying that infecting your children with secondhand smoke is the same as beating them. It's a metaphor, and a pretty effective one it appears. A little too effective, in fact.

  • ||

    Actually, that is exactly what they were saying. They were calling smoking child abuse and equating it with violent confrontation at the minimum.

    There is a world of difference. One is an activity that I suspect most of us endured growing up in the 60's, 70's, and 80's with little impact on our health or psychological state.

    The other is a horrendous betrayal that leaves lasting emotional scars and psychological trauma for decades.

    The ad went way too far and I'm glad someone in their organization recognized that.

  • ||

    One is an activity that I suspect most of us endured growing up in the 60's, 70's, and 80's with little impact on our health or psychological state.

    The other is a horrendous betrayal that leaves lasting emotional scars and psychological trauma for decades.


    That's a little nuanced for the Dan T.s of this world. Could you punch it up a little bit, Al Gore-style?

  • Jennifer||

    Could you punch it up a little bit, Al Gore-style?

    It doesn't need punching up, just a bit of clarification, Dan T.-style:

    Child abuse is an activity that I suspect most of us endured growing up in the 60's, 70's, and 80's with little impact on our health or psychological state.

    Parental smoking is a horrendous betrayal that leaves lasting emotional scars and psychological trauma for decades.

  • p0ps||

    Ramaa Mosley's film made to be a PSA is a brilliant piece of work. Shattering performances from the actors. It is harsh, I can understand that some think it's too harsh. It makes it's point with such a punch that it stood a good chance of increasing the public's understanding that children are damaged by exposure to their parent's second-hand smoke. Many children might have been helped, had it been widely viewed.

  • M||

    Very nice, Jennifer, thank you.

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