It’s been a big week in cigarette news. CVS announced Wednesday that it will no longer sell cigarettes and tobacco products. CVS is the second-biggest drugstore chain in the country and the move to stop cigarette sales by October will likely cost them about $2 billion in revenue.
The Food and Drug Administration also made a big push this week to deter smoking, particularly among teens. “The Real Cost” ad campaign will cost about $115 million and will officially launch on February 11, 2014.
The new campaign got us wondering – what’s different about this new set of anti-smoking ads? How has anti-smoking messaging changed? Here’s a look at the evolution of anti-smoking advertising.
APPEALING TO TEEN VANITY
In their new campaign, the FDA is “highlighting consequences that young people are really concerned about,” said Mitchell Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. This means focusing more on the cosmetic effects of smoking rather than the internal health risks.
The ads get pretty graphic, and definitely drives home the fact that smoking can make you less physically attractive. Take a look at two new ads from “The Real Cost” campaign:
The Real Cost Commercial: "Your Skin"
The Real Cost Commercial: "Your Teeth"
KING JAMES I: HATEFUL TO THE NOSE
So what came before “The Real Cost” campaign? The anti-tobacco movement can be traced back all the way to 1604. Turns out, King James I was not a fan of tobacco. He wrote the strongly-worded "Counterblaste to Tobacco," declaring smoking to be “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs.” (read the full text here - it’s long.)
NAZI ANTI-SMOKING: CORRUPTING THE PLASM
Skipping ahead a few hundred years, we arrive at the anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. Basically: Hitler hated tobacco because he was a chain-smoker in his 20s. Not surprisingly, things got racist from there. Nazi tobacco haters were worried that smoking would “corrupt the German germ plasm.” So…
Here’s a Nazi anti-smoking ad which reads, "The chain-smoker…He does not devour it [the cigarette], it devours him"
Fast forward to July 1968, when actor Bill Talman recorded first celebrity anti-smoking TV ad for the American Cancer Society. Talman was famous from his role as Hamilton Burger in “Perry Mason,” but he’s now remembered as one of the first famous anti-smoking advocates. He recorded the ad just six weeks before his death, while he was dying from lung cancer.
GIMME THE LIGHT
Here’s a more recent TV spot from 15andfalling, a group whose mission is, “To help spread the word about the suckitude of smoking.” Warning: it involves scatological humor.
FABIO: NUFF SAID
And finally, while “The Real Cost” campaign may play into teens’ vanity, it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of this classic:
Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.