History of Medicine
The tobacco industry has long capitalized on the ability of the entertainment industry to create, reinforce, and normalize messages. The invaluable marketing advantage this creates for the tobacco companies has allowed them to overcome legislative restrictions on cigarette advertising since the late 1960s. In movies and on television, celebrities facilitate the normalization of cigarette smoking by increasing the perception that the behavior is commonplace and integral to everyday life. Capitalizing on this power, tobacco companies have frequently paid producers and actors to feature their cigarette brands. In Superman II, for instance, Phillip Morris paid $40,000 for the Marlboro brand name to appear some 40 times in the film. Understanding the power of celebrities as spokespersons for smoking, anti-smoking campaigns have employed counter-marketing strategies to promote smoking cessation and decrease the likelihood of initiation. An integral part of this approach has involved a deglamorization strategy that de-emphasizes and discourages the aura, appeal, and attractiveness of tobacco use through its portrayal of smokers in advertisements.
The American Cancer Society used this poster as part of a 1968 campaign emphasizing positive approaches to discouraging young people from smoking. Featuring Olympic figure skating champion Peggy Fleming, the poster is an early example of a strategy used by voluntary health organizations to promote smoking cessation by countering the conventional portrayal of tobacco users in the entertainment industry. Taking a role modeling approach, the message from Fleming is not "stop smoking" but rather "I don't smoke cigarettes." This is significant because the photograph is designed to showcase Fleming's youth, athleticism, and attractiveness (along with an arguably risqué camera angle and pose). The poster is designed to offer the viewer a positive message from a heroic spokesperson for non-smoking.
In 1980, the Office on Smoking and Health, a federal government agency responsible for leading strategic efforts aimed at preventing tobacco use and promoting smoking cessation among youth, proposed to drop certain antismoking public service messages featuring Brooke Shields because the model had recently been featured as part of a controversial ad campaign for designer Calvin Klein. The ads featured the scantily clad underage Shields and sexually suggestive slogans. Understanding the value of using Shields for television spots, posters, and print ads against smoking, the American Lung Association took over the campaign to carry an important message to the young women of America. The comic image in this poster uses the popularity and status of Shields to lampoon the glamorization of cigarettes in other forms of media and entertainment. Appropriating the style of a magazine cover, the carefully placed cigarettes, with one sticking out of each ear, evoke a playfully negative image of cigarettes and smoking. This association of smoking with ugliness or absurdity, and nonsmoking with beauty or empowerment, has recently been used in a campaign by the Centers for Disease Control featuring model Christie Turlington.
The American Lung Association also capitalized on the celebrity of Joan Lunden, host of Good Morning America and National Chairman of ALA's Smoking and Pregnancy Education Campaign, in order to appeal to pregnant women. In 1986, the ALA developed a smoking cessation program targeted at pregnant women, which included a booklet that Lunden displays in this poster. The free ALA publication, "Freedom From Smoking for You and Your Baby," provided a 10-day self-help program prepared by two health care experts. Borrowing the strategy of sloganeering from commercial advertising, this poster also features the catchphrase "Quit smoking. . . . you're breathing for two."
This poster from the Irish Cancer Society illustrates the widespread popularity of using celebrity spokespersons in anti-smoking campaigns. Making the most of a multi-colored graphic layout featuring ten popular Irish musicians, the poster speaks directly to the viewer, imploring them to say, "I don't smoke," and reassuring them that in so doing they will remain in the fashionable "good company" of others. While utilizing a positive promotional approach similar to the Peggy Fleming poster above, the message at the bottom of the poster, in smaller print, is more aggressive: "Smoking is dangerous and disgusting. Stop it now!"