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Paid Counter-Advertising: Proven Strategy to Combat Tobacco Use and Promotion

  • Alan Blum
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Dr. Blum at the Department of Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 5510 Greenbriar, Houston, TX 77005.
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Dr. Blum is National Chairman of Doctors Ought to Care
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      This article discusses the effectiveness of paid counter-advertising in combating tobacco use and promotion, the impact of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated anticigarette television advertisements in the late 1960s, and reasons why the media today are reluctant to run antismoking advertisements. Although counter-advertisements can work very well, they should be image-based, rather than fact-based. Currently, tobacco companies promote a positive image of cigarette smoking and brand awareness. Most antismoking ads, however, tend to focus on the tobacco itself and its adverse effects on the smoker, rather than combating the images the cigarette ads promote. Urging counter-advertising to focus on the product, rather than to try to produce guilt in smokers, this article provides examples of paid counter-advertising strategies employed by Doctors Ought to Care to illustrate an image-based approach. Overall, the antismoking movement must guard against complacency and measure its success according to tobacco companies’ declining revenues, rather than the number of public service advertisements in the media.
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