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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Butt Out

First, a confession; I have never smoked. I don't think I have ever held a cigarette to my lips. But I have a few things to say about quitting. The first being that the self-congratulatory campaign by Health Canada which is captained by the increase in size of the gruesome pictures of smoking's health effects is converting nobody. I know smokers; have lived with them, dated them , friended them on Facebook. Sick lungs covering 70 percent rather than 50 percent of the package is not going to change their addiction to nicotine.

Currently, my office is the site of one person's battle against the weed. I was proofing a press release on the new cigarette packaging and had to ask her what she made of the government's new anti-smoking measure.

"It's shocking the first time you see it and then you don't look. You don't even notice it's there, " she said of the lurid photos.

"So why are you quitting," I asked.

"Honestly, it's the cost. Then, it's the health thing," she replied.

Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you and will lead to many kinds of outrageously bad diseases. But there are a lot of things that people do which they know are bad for them. These mainly fall into the category of addictions. Smoking is an addiction and it will take more than a few disturbing pictures to cure the addict.

When my co-worker said that cost was her main motivation for quitting we devised a much more plausible anti-smoking campaign. On every package should be featured fabulous cars, houses and vacations with the tagline, "All this could be yours for the price of your pack-a-day habit." I really think we have something here. And if the price of health care savings was added...imagine the lives former smokers would lead.

Do any smokers out there think these new packaging strategies will reduce the number of smokers in Canada? Do you think money in the bank and a luxury cruise could sweeten the withdrawal symptoms?

Today I saw a teenager I know post a new Facebook profile picture of herself with an unlit cigarette in her mouth. I don't think this campaign is going to affect her choices. What would? A cool car or a college fund perhaps.

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