The author of this piece of propaganda is the organization Truth. Truth is a website located at thetruth.com where this organization teaches their viewers about empowerment not judgment, they speak in facts, and they expose big tobacco companies. This propaganda was produced in an advertisement in which they state at the top “About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking. 90% of them started as teen smokers.” And the picture is depicting a corpse’s body draped by a white linen sheet on a table. Around the foot of the dead body is a tag that says “smoking kills.” The tag relates to the look of Marlboro cigarettes box due to the red shape and color that is shown, connecting the two together. This gives of the impression of the connection that smoking cigarettes will kill you. The purpose of this propaganda is to scare teenagers who have been smoking, are starting to smoke, or thinking about smoking. This frightening message is meant to influence the audience not to smoke. What is most upsetting to the audience about this piece of propaganda is seeing the corpse of a dead body and the shocking facts related to teen smoking. The propaganda provokes a wide array of emotions such as fear, anxiousness, and apprehension of smoking cigarettes. It is an antismoking advertisement with the intent of educating as well as a warning to its viewers about the dangers of teen smoking. The target audience for the propaganda is smokers in general. I do think it can be more directly targeted to teens who smoke or are thinking of smoking. Overall, for smokers if they continue to smoke, the corpse on that table could be their future outcome if they continue to smoke.
The technique used in this advertisement was activate emotion. By showing the dead body and the tag around the foot saying “smoking kills” it influences emotions to the audience to think that if you smoke therefore, you will end up dead just as the corpse is in the advertisement. By showing this image on the propaganda, the viewer is being directly shown the true costs of smoking and what the consequences could be in their life.
Pathos is one persuasive strategy used in this piece of propaganda. It definitely appeals to the emotions of the viewer. Fear is activated within all smokers and even loved ones of smokers when you can visually see a dead body on the table and the evidence of statistics above it stating, “About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking. 90% of them started as teen smokers.” Logos is another persuasive strategy used in the advertisement. The reasoning and logic of the argument that teen smoking can kill you is represented by the facts and statistics that are stated at the top of the advertisement. The facts state, “About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking. 90% of them started as teen smokers” by saying that 90% of the 440,000 Americans who die each year from smoking related diseases. Logically you are able to understand that the majority of the smokers who died from smoking related diseases starting smoking when they were teenagers. Therefore, in present day, teenagers who are currently smoking are more likely to die from smoking related diseases. The lifestyle that is largely represented in this advertisement is that of a smoker. The consequences of smoking result in death by diseases related to smoking. This is even more likely to occur if you started to smoke at young age as teenager.
Some might interpret this message as if you start smoking from a young age, you can easily get addicted to smoking nicotine and because of this addiction, you could end up dead. You could also interpret this advertisement as starting to smoke isn’t worth the consequences of death in the end. Some may even interpret the dead body in the advertisement as a symbol that symbolizes smoking as poison that will end up killing you. This advertisement brings up emotions that make the viewer scared of what the outcome would be if they did smoke and to those viewers who started smoking, have been smoking, or are thinking about smoking, it helps them to reflect on how by taking part in the action of smoking, they’re slowing killing themselves if they choose to participate in the act. Overall, this message is directly an anti-smoking advertisement that is promoting non-smokers. Additionally facts about teen smoking are omitted. I believe is there was incorporation of more statistics it would have added to the argument to stop or never start smoking. Some facts that could have added to the educational value of the advertisement are, “on average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers”, “teen smokers are more lily to have panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression”, and “about 1.69 billion pounds of butts end up as toxic trash each year, making cigarettes the most littered item on Earth”. I believe if a smoker saw these facts in addition to the ones that are on the piece of propaganda they would be even more shocked and therefore more persuaded to put a stop to their addiction to smoking.
Overall, I see this piece of propaganda being beneficial for various reasons. It demonstrates just how dangerous smoking is. It makes the viewer question whether smoking is worth the consequences of death. By viewing this advertisement you are able to come to the conclusion that all smoking will do it hurt you in the end and not help you at all. It is also beneficial because it can help make younger people realize how addictive smoking can be and that if you start to smoke in your teenage years, than you will need to expect a bad outcome. It can even be beneficial for family members, friends, or loved ones in general of smokers to view this advertisement so that they understand the magnitude of how negative the results of long term smoking can be and they in turn can help their loved ones in helping them to make the choice to quit smoking. Lastly, it is beneficial because this advertisement has the possibility of stopping smoking before it starts for the younger generations who are viewing the advertisement.
On the flip side, I can understand how this piece could be harmful to viewers. It can definitely be shocking and can induce fear into smokers and make them feel scared about smoking. At the same time, I don’t fully see that producing fear in smokers, and young smokers especially is a bad thing. If this advertisement is able to scare them into quitting that is the idea behind it and in turn can be beneficial for their health and their loved ones by having them get healthier and stay around for longer.
In the reading written by Hobbs and McGee, titled Teaching about Propaganda: An Examination of the Historical Roots of Media Literacy, on page 59 the propaganda devices that were at use in this piece of propaganda were flag waving and band wagon. Flag waving is, “a trick in which a propagandist holds up a symbol, such a flag, that we recognized and respect” this is displayed by the tag that says “smoking kills” which is recognized by a mass population because of the similarities to the popular cigarette company Marlboro which is an American brand of cigarettes introduced in 1924. Band wagon is, “an attempt to sway emotions through the use of shining ideals or virtues, such as freedom, justice, truth, education, democracy in a large general way” this is displayed by swaying the emotions of the viewer of the advertisement by the use of the statistic, “About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking. 90% of them started as teen smokers” by telling the truth about smoking through educating the people who see the advertisement about the bad outcomes from smoking it is impactful to the viewers.
Hobbs, R. & McGee, S. (2014). Teaching about
Journal of Media Literacy Education6(2), 56 – 67.