When it’s hard to tell the poison from the cure

As seen at Gawker, here’s the latest in the series of insufferable anti-smoking ads produced by Truth.com.

Yeah, except I’ve never seen a smoker run screaming like a maniac through a grocery store, tearing shit up and trying to shove fifty cigarettes in his mouth at one time, so the point of this ad is a little lost.  Truth.com has always employed the same pseudo-“edgy,” obnoxiously in your face tactics as PETA to push their rather muddled message (they don’t seem to be so much anti-smoking as anti-tobacco industry), mostly with the same results: derision and annoyance.  This seems to be a new low, however, and that’s saying a lot, since their last commercial involved a hipster jackass trying to cajole a shipping clerk into allowing him to send a box of arsenic and cyanide through the mail.  When the clerk protests, the hipster sneers “I’m not doing anything illegal, I’m just sending cigarettes,” in a tone of voice that suggests, improbably, that the mailing industry is at fault for young people smoking.  Oh ho ho, do you see what they did? You can’t ship a box of poison, because it might kill someone, but you can ship cigarettes, which also kill people! Isn’t that insane? Yes, except you can ship a lot of things that could potentially kill people–hell, mailing a box of peanut brittle could potentially kill someone.  So again, try not to dislocate your shoulders while patting yourselves on the backs, Truth.com.

Perhaps the most irritating part of their ads is when onlookers at the end are marked with asterisks, as if to suggest they’re just a few more people who got the message, thanks to their guerrilla tactics.  Except that I’ve never seen a single bystander in any of their ads look anything other than puzzled or annoyed.  The gummy bear ad is especially telling, in that virtually everyone watching these self-congratulatory douchebags trash a store has the same “What the fuck are these assholes doing?” expression on their faces.  They didn’t “educate” anyone, they imposed themselves on them.  It’s like trying to teach someone algebra by repeatedly hitting them over the head with a textbook and screaming equations at them.  Personally, if after all that the guy with the bullhorn got anywhere near me I would have shoved it so far up his ass that every time he’d try to speak after that only a feedback noise would come out.

I don’t smoke, and I have no love lost for the tobacco industry. My father died at 62 of complications from emphysema, after smoking for over 45 years. It’s a disgusting habit. But you know what else are disgusting habits? Smugness.  Preachiness.  Patronizing people to make them feel as though they’ve been victimized, or that they’re too stupid to know when they’ve been had.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a single smoker who doesn’t know it’s bad for them.  If they haven’t quit yet, it’s because either they’re willing to take a chance that it won’t kill them eventually, or they can’t.  Supportive education that doesn’t treat people like morons is what’s necessary to help smokers quit and prevent young people from starting, not some bullshit Ashton Kutcher wannabe making an ass out of himself in a public place.  It’s an addiction just like everything else.  You wouldn’t see a commercial speaking out against heroin abuse that shows someone swan-diving into a tank full of dirty needles.  Although if it was the guy in this ad, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.


One Response to “When it’s hard to tell the poison from the cure”

  1. Late to the party on this post, but I agree with most of this. A lot of these anti-smoking ads make me want to smoke out of spite. Had I been in that store, I would have crammed that megaphone down his snotty throat. We get it. Smoking is bad. Tobacco corps are lying dirtbags. Old meme.

    Although it does remind me of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion–

    Romy: Heather, has anyone ever told you that smoking can kill you?
    Heather: No! No one! Thank you!

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