A new campaign initiated by Fresh with the support of British Lung Foundation is yet another campaign aimed at stopping people from smoking. They are using the long-term effects of smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the tool of choice this time. And the examples they offer are people in their sixties who are suffering from shortness of breath and really damaging effects caused by smoking.
COPD is currently the 4th leading cause of death in the United States for those between the ages of 65-84.
One of the solutions proposed in a discussion in class today to decrease the risk of COPD was banning cigarettes on the market. Would that help? Smoking doesn’t have any beneficial effects on a person’s health, it only has negative effects, and we all know that. Especially the smokers I would say, who can feel a shortness of breath when they are going up the stairs to their office after having a cigarette break in the smoking area or that terrible taste in their mouth when they wake up in the morning. But they still smoke, don’t they? I would argue that illegalising cigarettes would only shift the profit that companies make from selling them from which they pay high taxes to the government to individuals who would find a way around producing cigarettes and selling them to the consumers.
The issue here is not the effect of smoking on the person who smokes but on the society as a whole. And the costs that incur for the care of people suffering from COPD are supported by the health services, ultimately by the tax payers. COPD occurs after the age of 50, but as a result of people smoking until then. So there would still be a high number of COPD patients that have the disease as the result of companies like British American Tobacco providing them with the gear.
Some may argue that, thinking in the long run, illegalising cigarettes would make a difference.
I would argue it wouldn’t. The main issue at the moment is that, out of the 300 people who take up smoking every day, nearly every one of them is a child under the age of 18, which is illegal and they are not going to care about the Campaign initiated by Fresh telling them what will happen after they are over 50 with their lungs. All they care about is belonging to a group, popularity and the feeling that they are doing something rebellious. Would making cigarettes illegal diminish that? I think it would only emphasise the coolness of it, because the forbidden fruit is always tempting.
The best approach I have seen so far is the ‘Smoking is cool’ initiative of British American Tobacco. Decades of ‘Smoking is bad’ have not influenced young people’s opinion on taking up smoking and it will not change, no matter how many horrifying pictures or strong messages will be displayed on the packages.
‘Smoking can kill’ will not impress a young person, because young people think they are invincible and immortal anyway. But young people do respond to sarcasm and their greatest fear is being laughed at. I’ve been a smoker for 6 years, but I would not, in a million years walk around with a packet of cigarettes that says ‘Smoking makes me cool’, but this campaign is not targeted at me, an addict, is aimed at people who are thinking about taking up smoking.
I want to find out what you think, should cigarettes be illegalised or should they change the way they are trying to influence people’s opinion on smoking?