The Sexy New Face of Anti-Smoking Ads

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July 27, 2010

Urban Fuel Smoke-Free & SexySex sells. We see it everywhere, from billboards marketing the hottest brand-name jeans to commercials endorsing the latest electronics. But what about ads promoting anti-smoking messages?

Health officials in Southern Nevada are using sexually suggestive ads to encourage teens and young adults to adopt smoke-free lifestyles, according to a recent article from the Las Vegas Sun. One popular image shows four women dressed in bras and panties, playfully throwing cushions in a pillow fight, while another shows a couple locked in a sensuous embrace, lips brushing against each other. The pictures are accompanied by tag lines, like “Delicious Kisses,” “Plays Hard” and “Intoxicating Scent,” along with the message, “What’s your smoke-free instinct?”

This is all part of a new “counter-advertising” campaign to combat the marketing strategies used by top tobacco companies to promote smoking. Unlike most government-funded health programs, which tend to preach to teens about the evils of smoking, this one uses provocative images to show young adults that it’s cool—sexy even—not to smoke.

While this campaign has received millions of dollars in funding and support, it has also sparked controversy among parents, who fear that the sexual ads are sending the wrong message to teens. In a Las Vegas Sun online poll of 309 people, 71 percent believed that “any effort to fight smoking is a good thing,” while 29 percent believed that “using sex and drinking to fight smoking is wrong.” What do you think? Is using sex to sell anti-smoking messages the right way to promote healthy living?

—Cynthia Lam, 16, Staff Writer

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