Tobacco smoking involves burning of tobacco and tasting or inhaling the vapor produced. Tobacco is an agricultural product, which is often mixed with other additives, and then it is pyrolyzed, producing vapor that when inhaled, some substances may be absorbed through the alveoli. According to Seidman (1999, pg. 272), heavy smoking can result to damage of the lungs and even in worst cases, cause lung cancer or coronary artery disease in the future. Despite the fact that smoking is considered as dangerous and harmful to a person’s health, it continues to exist and spread in the society to even the minors. It appears that the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns is miniscule, therefore, regardless of how much money the government spends on such campaigns, smoking may not cease. According to Lloyd (1998 pg 33), one of the strategies the government should adopt and maintain is enacting non-smoking policies which establishes non-smoking as a norm in all public places. The government should also implement an immediate and complete ban of all tobacco promotions and implement measures that ensure the price of all tobacco products is increased to discourage spending. These measures can seriously reduce smoking rates in adolescents due to the high price on cigarettes.
First, it is necessary to explore the main principles, goals, and functions of advertising to understand why anti-smoking advertising will always fail. According to Macklin and Carlson (1999 pg 247), advertisement on harmful effects on use of cigarette have little effect on youth. He further argues that these advertisement are hypocritical, since they are associated with sports such as baseball and pool ball, thus indicating that advertisement have little or no effect on youth’s smoking habit. Advertisers attempt to do everything possible to convince the consumer that they need something badly to feel good, to fit into the group/society, to save time, to be respected etc. This need can be satisfied only through buying the advertised product.
Even though the anti-smoking advertisement openly says, “Do not smoke” or “smoking causes cancer,” or “smoking kills,” it only reminds a person about smoking. The vivid imagery of lung cancer and diseases only create additional stress in those who watch the advertisements, making them want another cigarette, which they truly believe helps to alleviate stress. Research shows that restrictions on cigarette smoking do not reduce the number of smokers; according to Bernnet and DiLorenzo (1998 pg.56), in countries where cigar advertisement was prohibited, the amount of teenage smokers actually increased in these countries.
What is more important is that certain groups of people, like teenagers, who by the virtue of their age and temper, tend to be the most rebellious group of people, may engage in prohibited activities only to be different from others. Teens love doing what is prohibited by the adults; so, many will deliberately start smoking only because it is dangerous! Those who have not tried smoking will be always reminded by the anti-smoking advertisement of the dangers of smoking yet at the same time will witness others smoke and remain alive and agile. Naturally, they trust more what they see in the community rather than what the ads say. According to Hunt (2007 pg.14), campaigns usually consists of movies, lectures, posters, scientific articles and advertisement that have been criticized for their impersonal and non- motivational massage. He further argues that, the most appropriate method is the “smoking withdrawal clinic.”
This method includes how one receives information and education on smoking and his smoking habits, without criticism. According to an article from the university of California, “As part of an evaluation of the 1990-91 anti-tobacco media campaign carried out by the California Department of Health Services, a study was conducted among 417 regular smokers who had quit during the period of the media campaign. In brief telephone interviews, all respondents identified up to three events or experiences that had influenced them to quit.” These results also show that some times the anti- smoking campaigns are fruitful and create change in people’s lives. According to an article on smoking media campaigns, by Niederdeppe et al (2008), “Some types of smoking cessation media messages may have greater impact on quit attempts among more-educated compared with less-educated populations. Over time, these differences could produce widened disparities in smoking. There is a need to develop media campaigns that are more effective with less-educated smokers, a group that constitutes a disproportionately large portion of the smoking population.”
Advertisements with educative testimonials about the health effects of smoking have been cited by former smokers as influential in their efforts to quit. Despite the fact that these advertisements play a vital role to the society, some people never quit smoking while others decide to stop. These anti- smoking advertisements are an important component of tobacco control programs. Their aim is to increase health messages through out a country. They may decrease the libel of smoking but as well initiate and promote smoking. Another factor pointing to the importance of anti-tobacco advertising in reducing population-smoking behavior is the length to which the tobacco industry will go in seeking to divert funding away from such advertising into strategies with lower levels of population impact. According to an article by Job (1988), it states that use of fear in promoting health may be the appropriate to use in this case. It further states that, fear is likely to be effective if campaign allows the desired behavior to be reinforced by a reduction in the level of fear. This entails five requirements: fear onset should occur before the desired behavior is offered, the event upon which the fear is based should appear to be likely; a specific desired behavior should be offered as part of the campaign; the level of fear elicited should only be such that the desired behavior offered is sufficient to substantially reduce the fear; and fear offset should occur as a reinforce for the desired behavior, confirming its effectiveness. This literally means that advertisement and campaigns alone cannot conquer this fight. The United States government should hence find a way to curb smoking.
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Smokers should also beware of the repercussions of smoking which include: lung cancer; coronary heart disease; bad breath; increase the rate of a heart attack, stroke and blood pressure; some smokers end up with their limbs amputated; can also lead to emphysema - a disease that slowly rots the lungs. According to international development research centre (2003, pg 51), cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight, premature births, spontaneous abortion, and prenatal mortality in humans, which is referred to as the fetal tobacco syndrome.
In conclusion, According to scholar, Niederdeppe et al (2008), some media campaign messages appear less effective in promoting quit attempts among less-educated populations compared with those who have more education. There is a need to develop media campaigns that are more effective with less-educated smokers. A relative ineffectiveness of media campaigns among populations could be caused by several factors: exposure and attention to campaign messages, motivational impact of campaign messages, and capacity to make sustained behavioral changes in response to media messages. The reason why anti-smoking campaigns do not work is that we pay so much attention to smoking that some people just need to try it to know what it is all about. Therefore, smoking should be banned in public areas so that people are not reminded of it even on the streets. At the same time, consumers’ minds should be diverted from smoking/anti-smoking to healthy issues like sports, fitness, and healthy diets (Popham, 1993).
The government can reduce on the cost of campaigns by implementing other measures, which will stand a test of time. They include adopting and maintaining of non-smoking policies, which establishes non-smoking as a norm in all public places. The government should also implement an immediate and complete ban of all tobacco promotions and implement measures, which ensure price rise in all tobacco products. These measures can seriously reduce smoking rates in adolescence due to the high price on cigarettes, which will proof to be unaffordable for the majority. The government should also establish and encourage smoking-withdrawal clinics, which are not only educative but act as a therapy, since there is a follow up on a person’s progress. In additions, the companies that manufacture substitutes for smoking should also advertise their products, which include chewing gums and sweets that drive away the lust of smoking.
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