Mar. 7, 2000
The state of Florida has cut teen smoking by as much as 54 percent, thanks to a series of The-Man-wants-you-to-smoke themed ads. The ads, which portray teen smokers as tobacco industry dupes, apparently did the near-impossible by making smoking less cool among middle and high school students.
Impressed, the deep-pocketed Legacy Foundation, a national anti-smoking group, copied Florida’s strategy with its own don’t-be-a-pawn-of-capitalism spots. The foundation ran into a snafu, though, when tobacco lawyers reminded it of a clause in its charter that bans it from vilifying tobacco companies or executives. One ad the tobacconiks deemed particularly offensive showed a woman with a suitcase labeled “lie detector” being kicked out of an anonymous tobacco company’s offices. The Legacy Foundation decided not to run the ad following tobacco industry objections. Now, anti-smoking activists are stumped — how can they make smoking uncool without a bad guy?