Anti-Smoking Ads Backfire? Whudafxup?


The more anti-smoking ads middle schoolers see, the more likely they are to smoke, according to a study in the August issue of Communication Research. Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Albert Gunther, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, analyzed data from surveys that asked middle school students about their exposure to anti-smoking messages and their intention to smoke:

They found that, overall, the more the students were exposed to anti-smoking messages, the more inclined they were to smoke. The exception—where exposure to anti-smoking ads correlated with a reduced intention to smoke—occurred among students who said their friends were influenced by anti-smoking messages.

Generally speaking, Paek and Gunther conclude, "the ads appear to stimulate the rebellious and curious nature of youth, making them more interested in smoking." When anti-smoking ads work, they say, it's because they affect the social context of smoking, as opposed to directly persuading kids to avoid cigarettes. Notably, it's not clear from this study whether the self-consciously cool "truth" spots sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation are any more effective in this respect than the lame anti-smoking ads sponsored by Philip Morris, which previous research has found may backfire.

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  1. Okay, everyone, raise your hands, everyone who believes this news comes as a surprise to the advertising and marketing Macchiavellis at Philip Morris…anyone?

  2. This is precisely why the best way to curb teen smoking is to raise the taxes on cigarettes to the point where kids will seriously think twice before taking up the habit, much the way Mr. Chapman recommended raising gas taxes to discourage unnecessary driving (with offsetting decreases in other taxes of course).

  3. Or we could just leave people the fuck alone.

  4. Or we could just leave people the fuck alone.

    Chillingly, Marcvs, that thought honestly does not even cross most peoples’ minds. Like Bill Pope.

  5. Good call, Bill Pope.

    But why stop there? Why not just tax to death everything we find distasteful? Smoking, petroleum, heavy metal, puffy directing pants. They’d all still be available, as long as you can pay the going indulgence rate.

    Banning things is unamerican. Taxing them is in the constitution.

  6. Since making drugs and alcohol illegal made them more popular and accessable to many people, I’m guessing the cigarette companies are behind all these prohibition attempts.

    Man, blue nose scolds never seem to learn their lessons, do they?

  7. “… the lame anti-smoking ads sponsored by Philip Morris, which previous research has found may backfire.”

    Why, those devious bastards!

    Some years ago, when the daughter of my then- girlfriend took up smoking, I suspected it was directly in response to her mother’s anti-smoking harangues.

  8. “… the lame anti-smoking ads sponsored by Philip Morris, which previous research has found may backfire.”

    Lame? Backfire? Terrible choice of words. You think those ads weren’t run by focus groups of teenagers to see if they would cause the desired rebellious behavior? Quit insulting the geniuses at PM, who not only got new customers, but convinced those new customer’s statist parents that PM was acting altruistically.

  9. The Truth ads are so douchey they made me start smoking again.

  10. Ha, ha. Those oh-so-edgy idiots at are running ads that claim “milk is more dangerous than second-hand smoke.” I can think of no better way to say that smoking isn’t that bad than to compare it to milk. Well, maybe their next commercial will say “oxygen kills” or something. Am I missing something here, some pseudo-faux-quasi irony that the kids love? If milk is more dangerous than smoke, then smoke up Johnny, it’ll make you strong.

  11. I loath the anti-smoking nazis. I am currently not a cigarette smoker, but have smoke on and off in my life. I say Leave people alone. Personally I think that the anti-smoking nazis really don’t want to cure the populace of their smoking addicting, because what would they do then? Some people’s livelyhood depends on working for anti-smoking groups/non-profits. I guess they could always villianize cheesebugers next.

  12. The anti-smoking nazis are consumed with hatred. Ever talk to one or watch them talk? When they discuss cigarettes their faces contort like Tipper Gore talking to Dee Snyder. They say they don’t hate smokers, but considering that they must think smokers are subhumanly stupid for smoking, they must have the most foul contempt no matter what they say.

  13. “The Truth ads are so douchey they made me start smoking again.” — Matt J

    Me too. Can we get together and file a class-action suit against them? 🙂

  14. “2 glasses of whole milk may be more dangerous than smoking”… maybe… think of the fat content… what level of smoking?

    “Some women would prefer smaller babies” and “Truth” proceded to prove that point before saying “Who’s pulling the curtain over the facts?” YOUAREFUX!

    “Are any of these bullets ‘lights’? Will any of them kill me less?”… Suggesting smoking cigarrets kills instantly and certainly? What about bean-bags and rubber-bullets?

    Arguably decent, at least in it’s end message, and from another group, is the one with the guy smoking indoors and his kids complaining. That says “take it outside”, as a responsible, respectful, smoker should do.

  15. The Truth ads are so douchey they made me start smoking again.

    Every time I see one of those ads, it makes me want to light up an unfiltered Camel just to spite ’em.

  16. Why does my government treat me like a baby ?

  17. smoking = second hand smoke = transfats = guns = plutonium = high fructose corn syrup = heroin = cannabis = terrorist = hating America = hating children = lighting puppies on fire and kicking them / snark

  18. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
    I’m hatin’ on those children
    cause I spew second hand smoke
    but all the teens think I’m cool
    cause I piss off their smoke hatin’ folks.

  19. I am lucky in that my tobacco of choice is cigars, not cigarettes. However, I’m sure in due time I too shall be targeted with obnoxious ads to protect me from myself.

  20. Lamar, I think the Truth ad says that it was the tobacco companies that were claiming that milk was as harmful as second-hand smoke from cigarettes.

    The Truth ad then asks the milk farmer where he adds the acetone, the cyanide, etc. is in the milk. The implication of course is that the original claim by the tobacco industry is idiotic.

  21. Yeah, I’ve never smoked, but everytime I see one of those sanctimonious commercials, I want a cigarette.

    Probably my natural American rebellious streak.

  22. The ad actually claims that tobbaco companys claimed that

    “two glasses of milk are more dangerous than “second hand” smoke.

    which actually could be true?

    2 Glasses of full fat vitimin D milk vs Second hand smoke??

    Probably a push with neither of them being dangerous enough to care about.

  23. Does anyone know of anyone who died because of secondhand smoke ?

  24. This is precisely why the best way to curb teen smoking is to raise the taxes on cigarettes…

    Uh huh…that high tax thing worked out real well for Canada, eh?

  25. Ahh, thanks. Me and 4 other people missed that connection. Funny thing is, two glasses of milk probably is as dangerous as second-hand smoke. I mean, do they inject cigs with growth hormones?

  26. No, we were just humoring you.

  27. “raise the taxes on cigarettes to the point where kids will seriously think twice before taking up the habit”

    The fact that it’s illegal for them to smoke should already be making them think twice. If they don’t, why should adults who enjoy a product obtained legally have to pay more? If these kids suffer negative health consequences as a result of their unlawful behavior, so be it.

  28. The one group of people that the government makes stand out in the freezing cold.

  29. Travis ==

    No one has ever died from Second Hand Smoke (from cigarettes). Ever.

  30. “No, we were just humoring you.”

    …and? …and? …and? Smoking the reefer.

  31. (cue guitar music)

    you don’t always die from tobacco
    sometimes they just snip out your tongue
    you don’t always die from tobacco
    sometimes you just lose your lung

    well you can’t sing worth a heck
    with a big hole in your neck

    you don’t always die from tobacco
    you don’t always die from tobacco
    you don’t always die from tobaccooooooo

    (end guitar music)

  32. Second hand smoke is THEFT! Stop it immediately

  33. Does anyone know of anyone who died because of secondhand smoke?

    I wanna know if anyone has directly died of smoking, like sitting down and chain-smoking so much that their body gave out much in the way one can die of alcohol or water poisoning. I think it may be possible, but I’m not sure that there is even one recorded case. Google fails me on this search, so if anyone has a source, I’d appreciate it.

  34. Cigarette companies are right, a glass of milk is more dangerous. I wanted to ask if anyone else was shocked when they saw the Whudufxup slogan the first time. I mean isn’t this aimed at teens?

  35. I have trouble breathing for a few minutes every few weeks, and that’s just from working with employees who smoked around me for 6 months. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will, because you’re too hedonistic and arrogant.

  36. Allergy season?

    Anyways, smoking bans and taxes are a lame duck approach to something the government doesn’t want to lose taxes on, smoking, and won’t make illegal because they know how well that worked on alcohol with prohibition, or the war on drugs. One side wants the extreme measure on the other and people are trapped in the politics in the middle of it.

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