Low level violence and the ads on cigarette packs
The outlandish, gory ads on cigarette boxes have changed over the years, for the worse. In a recent change over there was some discussion of the efficacy of the effect of the horror pictures shown there. One conclusion in preliminary research was that even though initially the pictures did have have some deterrent effect, eventually they just became background and were ignored. Like an abused child the smoker gets used to it to a certain extent, becomes hardened to it, hardens one’s feelings. And the initial reason for the negative statements has long been forgotten, when the behaviour just becomes routine.
Whatever good intentions were present at the start are totally lost in the shuffle. Whenever a parent or teacher corrects a child with harsh negative statements it has an initial shock effect – but its long term effect will depend on state of the recipient. If the child already has strong self-esteem he/she could accept it or reject it but might not suffer long term damage from it. But if the child has low self- esteem or has been constantly criticized and put down the only outcome is a further lowering of self-concept / self-worth. Long term damage.
The smokers of cigarettes must be held in very low esteem in our society to allow this low level violence to persist over this long a period of time without any public outcry. I don’t know of any other segment of society that we consistently subject to this level of abuse. Sure it’s an abuse. Like criminals, we consider them less than human so any bad behaviour towards them can be excused and justified.
The theory of course is that you’re trying to discourage smoking. But just as when you’re correcting a child, negative criticism actually does very little good in the long term and is more likely to cause damage.
Violence at any level is still violence. Horrible pictures on cigarette packs need to be rethought. Smokers are also people.
M.B. is a retired school teacher, who is working on a book on the effects of low level violence and the scaring of young children. Visit the website FrightFree.com