Teens Respond to Ads That Tell Why Smoking is Bad

In order to convince teens that smoking is a health risk, the American Legacy Foundation has used tactics similar to those employed by marketers of products like cell phones, soft drinks, and trendy apparel, USA Today reported May 2.

The goal of the foundation’s “Truth” ad campaign is to sell teens on the idea of not smoking. By exposing the marketing tactics of tobacco companies, it appears that the American Legacy Foundation has captured the attention of teens. By having a credible message, the television ads have made not smoking cool.

“You don’t have to be much of a social scientist to recognize that saying, ‘I dare you to do something,’ is almost a guarantee that young people will rebel,” said Chris Cullen, executive vice president, marketing and communications at the foundation.

Cullen said the Truth campaign’s message has gotten “into the in crowd. We are privileged to have an inside conversation with 12- to 17-year-olds,” he said. “At some point teens seem distanced by the facts. They told us to show them a way to think about 1,200 daily deaths.”

Cheryl Healton, chief executive of the foundation, said that in six months the organization will release a study that shows “clear evidence that the Truth campaign has accelerated the rate of decline in youth smoking.”