Thank you for not smoking…

Yesterday morning I woke up to a television commercial showing a woman who’s had a stroke lying in bed, hooked up to machines and struggling to breathe.  Her caregiver comes in and changes her.  She’s clearly dying.  It’s an anti-smoking commercial that NYC has been running for a while and, it seems, every morning at exactly 6:20 AM. 

Well…not every morning.  What I woke up to this morning was far worse.  This morning, I opened my eyes and saw someone wrist deep in an open chest cavity.  I immediately changed the channel because watching someone perform lung surgery is not my idea of a friendly wake up call. 

These commercials are all part of a graphic campaign that NYC has been running for years to try to scare people into quitting smoking.  There have been images of people who lost fingers, a guy with a tracheotomy and my particular favorite…a guy squeezing fat out of an artery.  Apparently, someone somewhere decided this was just what we all needed to see first thing in the morning to make us quit smoking. 

Except, here’s the thing…I’m not a smoker!  And yet, I have to wake up to this crap every single day.  I don’t want my very first image in the morning to be a hand missing four fingers or a guy cleaning his trach with a Q-tip.  To me, these commercials are just gross and make me want to change the channel.

But to be fair, I called a smoker to get a different perspective…

Me: You know those anti-smoking commercials?
Brother: Yes…the ones with the people dying and stuff?
Me: Yes and the gross ones with people missing fingers and lips and stuff.  Do they make you want to quit smoking?
Brother: Sometimes…especially the ones with the people dying.  Those make me think about quitting.
Me: Really?
Brother: (exhaling what I’m assuming is cigarette smoke) Yes, really.
Me: But you’re smoking right this very second as we are discussing this?
Brother: That is correct.
Me: So really, they don’t make you want to quit that badly because you are still smoking?
Brother: That is correct. But I do think about it.
Me: Yes…and then you smoke another pack of cigarettes. 
Brother: Right. (exhales more smoke)

I just had a repeat of the same conversation with my father.  So clearly these ads are not that effective at anything, but grossing me out and getting people to change the channel.  Seriously, my brother watched my grandmother die from lung cancer right in front of his eyes and he experienced how horrible it was first hand.  If that didn’t get him to quit smoking then a thirty-second commercial of a stranger dying isn’t going to do it either. 

I wish my brother and my father would quit smoking.  It is horrible and it does have really bad side effects and consequences.  I would be all for these commercials if they worked.  Hell, I’d play them on a continuous 24 hour loop.  But they aren’t going to listen to me and they certainly aren’t going to be swayed by some television commercial. 

So please…NYC, I’m begging you to stop with these commercials…or at least air them a little later.  I would much rather wake up to something pleasant. 

Besides, the lady on the bus that hacks non-stop and has such a deep smoker’s voice is enough of a reminder not to smoke!


  1. OK, gross. Just . . . gag. And? :)

  2. The top half of every CDN cigarette pack is some disgusting image of the horrors of smoking. Apparently kids were collecting them like baseball cards…so not terribly effective.
    The best anti-smoking campaign I have ever seen was a woman – Barb Tarbox – in her 40’s, here in Alberta, who was dying of lung cancer. She used to be a model when she was young, and she went to schools all across the province (country?) and essentially said this is what I used to look like, and look at me now. She was bald, and thin and yellow – she was dying. She was very frank and open about how crappy her life was and how she’ll never get to see her kids grow up. She even had cameras in the hopsital the week of her death to be used to carry on her “message”.
    She went to my neice’s school, and Kayla cried for days after – but she has never so much as tried a single puff of a cigarette.

  3. You know what else doesn’t work – the commercials for this directed at teens. It just doesn’t work.

    I’m not a smoker and I was never a smoker. I have smoked exactly 2 cigs in my life both as jokes and I hated it.

    My parents are both smokers. My father had a heartattack and has had triple bypass surgery – he’s still smoking!!!!!

    My mother quit when my dad had his heartattack – she was smoke free for 12 years and then got Lung Cancer. She has since passed after battling and beating lung cancer [she was in remission when she started to get leukemia]… my dad, still smokes. Granted they were divorced but you would think that my pain would help him wake up- but he’s as stubborn as I am – I get it honest.

    I hate smoking and while I think at times it’s unfair that they have banned it in so man public places – smokers are hard working men and women too – I am also extremely happy to come home from a bar not smelling like stale smoke anymore!

    SMOKING KILLS plain and simple… people need to remember that. Oh yeah and it’s pretty foul too.

    I’m very proud of Mike. Before I moved here he quit cold turkey after seeing my mom suffering from Lung Cancer and how much it hurt me. He said he couldn’t smoke around me after that without feeling bad so he quit and never went back. It’s been 7 years! I’m so proud of him.

  4. I’ve always thought those types of commercials only make non smokers more adamant about not smoking and the smokers get annoyed and want to smoke more! Your test proves it!

  5. Yeah that sounds like a really gross thing to wake up too. By the way although it snowed yesterday it is now 65 degrees today.

  6. I smoked in college, then later I smoked when I went out with my friends. Those commercials would never have phased me. It took for me to marry a guy who hates cigarettes and had small kids for me to quit. It also took my college roommate dying of lung cancer at 32 for me to open my eyes.

    I think the mentality when a smoker sees a commercial like that is either: “It won’t happen to me.” or “I will quit – tomorrow, or next week, or when I’m 30, etc.” If anything, I think ads like that would keep people, esp kids, from starting to smoke. But once you are in the addiction, the only thing that gets you to quit is you and your circumstances.

  7. Edit to my previous comment: ‘fazed’ me, not ‘phased’ me (jeesh, embarrassing)

  8. Well, those just sound awful! You know, I was a smoker for about 12 years (college and in my 20s)… and nothing would’ve made me quit except for the sheer determination of WANTING to quit. Which is why i quit soon after I turned 30. I was just done.

    Here’s to hoping you can get the ad campaign changed… :)

  9. All I can suggest is that you find a different channel to wake up to every morning. Is Sesame Street still on? Or maybe something that will make you eat a HUGE breakfast…like Emeril! What I can see is that smoking ads is causing you to drop crazy amounts of weight and while I’m drowning my sorrows in pomegranate wine, I’m also going to lose. so, please change the channel to The Food Network ASAP.

    Do they run meth ads? Because I have to tell you…that would be a very special brand of disgusting.

  10. I have been an off-and-on smoker for years (my parents are also smokers) and I can say honestly that those commercials don’t deter me in the least. I know they should, and who doesn’t know about the dangers of smoking, but I don’t think a commercial is going to get anyone to stop cold turkey. I’d be curious to know if they have actually helped anyone quit. Instead of airing all these commercials, they should spend money to see how effective they are in the first place.

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