Dr. Phyllis Elmore
September 7, 2012
“You Don’t Always Die From Tobacco”
“You Don’t Always Die From Tobacco” originally aired in 2006 as part of The American Legacy Foundation’s anti-smoking campaign, thetruth.com. In the ad, two cowboys are riding through a typical New York City traffic jam. They dismount from their steeds in the middle of the street and set up camp, ready to sing a fireside tune. One cowboy starts strumming his guitar, while the other removes his neckerchief, revealing a stoma. As a crowd of confused and curious New Yorkers gathers, the men begin to share their chilling caution about the health threat that cigarettes represent. Expecting a comedic scene to unfold, the New Yorkers are shocked and disgusted when they realize the true intention of this impromptu serenade. This ad effectively conveys thetruth.com’s message about the perils of smoking with its utilization of several elements, including the song’s lyrics, the candid shots of the crowd’s reaction, and their casting of a Marlboro man type character.
The lyrics of the song crooned in this ad enhance the rational aspects of the commercial, as they expound upon the varied, lesser known health implications of smoking. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for their health, but a barrage of anti-smoking ads has, if anything, desensitized the public to the real effects of this deadly product, which are not strictly limited to death. Few people are truly familiar with how extensive the damage can be. This song starts with the disclosure that “you don’t always die from tobacco” and continues by listing other afflictions one may suffer as a result of the prolonged use of tobacco products. The loss of a lung or the snip of the tongue are proffered as potential alternatives to the grave. Their words are daunting and describe something like what may have been encountered in a medieval torture chamber. While everyone...