Cigarettes: A Synopsis
to take an angle on how the image has become immortalized through (especially
early) cinema, and how can it ever have the chance of becoming "mortalized"?
For example James Dean. James Dean can only ever, I would imagine, be
perceived as "cool". Since his image has been preserved in world history
and pictures of him will live forever, he could still be, in a sense,
selling cigarettes to children fifty years from now. Thus, no matter how
hard anti-smoking campaigns battle advertising,
a potentially even more powerful source of advertising will be reaching
Marlboro's target audience: impressionable youth.
Celebrity smoking is only one of many ways that cigarettes are still reaching a large audience - there is also plenty of product placement within television, movies and the media.
People need to come to terms with the fact that cigarettes may very well always exist in society. We all know that they're harmful - but despite that fact, people will want to smoke anyway. Plenty of people have attitudes like "I don't want to be old and senile", or "they'll find a cure for cancer when the time comes", or even "I like how cigarettes give me a raspy voice". The image has been preserved and the notion that "cigarettes have some cool effects" will stick in people's heads forever.
So are we screwed?
Perhaps not. What we can do is to better expose smoking's "brutal realism" through the media. But not with the 'end it now' intent that most anti-smoking organizations have. Instead of showing graphic images of cancerous lungs or people with traechotomies, we need to advertise the less fun, more realistic aspects of smoking. For instance that smoking doesn't create cool, but only has the power to enhance it.
Growing up I had an old, overweight great-uncle who used to smoke or chew tobacco constantly. Everything in the house was stained, burned, or smelled bad. He definately was _not_ cool. If all cigarette smokers looked like Uncle Oscar, then there would probably be little or no problem in teaching children not to smoke. But this isn't true, and unfortunately Hollywood breeds only the glamorous.
We need to present children with the truth and it needs to be bold and direct. The media must make an effort not to _hide_ smoking and smokers, but rather just to limit the glamorous images and highlight the slovenly ones. If children are able to see smoking as it actually _is_, then they will be more able to make their own decisions. They won't be as persuaded and thus less likely to try it in the first place.
Some television shows are already doing a good job of this. The Simpsons, which is geared mostly toward children and teens, presents smoking in a very non-glamorous light. If more TV shows presented smoking in this manner, it would be a good start to exposing the overlooked grim underside of cigarette smoking.
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