Roman Around

combating liberalism and other childish notions


Posted by Andrew Roman on January 2, 2010

Here in New York, there are a series of anti-smoking television commercials that have been airing with regularity, featuring a woman called “Marie” from the Bronx. In the ads, the woman shows how smoking cigarettes led to amputations on of most of her fingers. Print versions of the ads were posted all over subway stations for a time as well.

The ads were created by DCF Advertising in Manhattan for the New York Department of Health.

Frankly, I find the ads quite objectionable … but not because they are anti-smoking in nature.

To clarify … Rather than banning smoking from privately owned businesses – like restaurants and bars – I have always been of the mind that if the government wishes to discourage smoking as a matter of promoting better public health, they should limit themselves to brochures and pamphlets, or even creating PSAs (public service announcements) for radio and television. Obviously, endeavors such as these are funded by taxpayer dollars – and I’d exponentially prefer government to stay out of the private sector as much as possible – but simply informing people of various health risks (including smoking) isn’t necessarily offensive. That’s why, to me, the “Marie” anti-smoking ads are not disagreeable simply by virtue of their existence.

It’s the disingenuousness of the content that irks me.

Not that Marie from the Bronx didn’t lose parts of her fingers and toes from smoking.

I have no doubt that every word she says is perfectly true.

What struck me – and everyone I have talked to who has seen either the commercials or the print ads – is the idea that the anti-smoking brigades would resort to creating an ad featuring something so incredible, so fantastic and so rare to make their point. Even those I have chatted with who are, themselves, militant anti-smoking zealots have commented to me that the ad campaign is a bit of a stretch. There are, indeed, a myriad of other consequences far more common in long-time smokers than the loss of fingers – emphysema, lung and throat cancer, etc.

That Marie lost her fingers due to smoking is tragic, but hardly probable. To use it as a selling point is profoundly misleading. One’s chances of having fingers amputated due to cigarette smoking is extremely rare. If it weren’t, there would be hardly any guitar playing musicians from the 1960s around today able to make music. (So many of them smoked back then). Using Marie’s maladies as examples of the dangers of smoking is akin to objecting to hand guns because a hemophiliac bled to death from a cut he or she received while cleaning the weapon. (Marie did not die, of course – and thank God – but the point is still a valid one).

Enough legitimate reasons already exist to not smoke cigarettes, if one so chooses.  There’s already enough “shock value” and “hard-hitting reality” to contend with for many smokers and ex-smokers. There’s truly no need to employ these kind of “one in a million” wily scare tactics to make the point.

Sure, it could happen.

Just like the New York Department of Health could start  mandating that abortion seekers view what unborn, coat-hangered babies look like after the procedure.

Yeah, that’ll happen …

Incidentally, I am not a smoker. I quit on February 2, 1998 at 3:16PM. I’m not sure why I remember that.

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  1. proof said

    Citing a one in a gazillion problem from smoking is not going to cause people to quit or not to start, it may only cause them to doubt every other thing the government has been saying is “bad” for them.

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