Seven New ‘Graphic’ TV Ads Released
Gov. Gray Davis (D) and the state Department of Health yesterday released seven new antitobacco television ads "attacking cigarette makers for promoting a product that causes cancer and other deadly diseases," part of a $45 million media campaign funded by a 25-cent per pack cigarette tax, the Los Angeles Times reports. Activists who had formerly accused the state of running a "lackluster anti-tobacco campaign" lauded the new ads as "hard-hitting." Among the previous critics, Jennie Cook, chair of a state tobacco education advisory committee, said that the new ads showing real Californians describing the harm they've suffered from tobacco "definitely have a stronger tone." The ads, two of which are in Asian languages and a third in Spanish, are set to air this week in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and will be broadcast statewide next week. State health Director Diana Bonta said, "These ads are very effective and hit on a lot of themes we believe will reach people in a powerful way. We have an aggressive program that shows the realities of tobacco use and how this industry has not told the truth about its product." The ads are sometimes graphic -- one depicts an elderly cancer patient cleaning the tracheotomy opening in his throat, another shows a couple in bed dealing with the frustration of the man's smoking-related impotence and two more ads feature "Debi," a woman who previously appeared in a "memorable" ad in which she smoked through her tracheotomy hole. In the new spot, Debi says that "the tobacco companies always said that nicotine isn't addictive. They were lying. Tobacco kills a little part of you every day." In an ad "designed to highlight the 'hypocrisy'" of Philip Morris Company's $100 million per year TV campaign to "humanize" the company, a cartoon crocodile labeled "Big Tobacco" insists he has changed by helping social causes, but then "stomps off" when asked if he plans to stop selling cigarettes (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 11/3). "Californians should not be fooled by the claims of tobacco companies that things have changed, and that they now care about you and the community," Bonta said, calling the industry's media campaign "contrived and manipulated." She added, "If they really cared, tobacco companies would admit that they have been manipulating nicotine levels for years so that smokers have little 'personal choice.'" Since May 1999, the Department of Health Services has released 42 television, radio, outdoor and print ads, 31 of which were released this year (California Department of Health Services release, 11/2). Ad advocates note that whereas 25% of adult Californians smoked before the TV campaign began, today only 18% smoke, making California the state with the second-smallest rate of smokers (Los Angeles Times, 11/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.