Please excuse me while I get on my soapbox. The other day, I was casually browsing the internet on my phone when I came across this advertisement from the Queensland Government. As soon as I saw it, I was taken aback. As far as I am concerned, other reasons to stop smoking are immeasurably more important than trying to be attractive to the opposite sex. I understand that this advertisement is only a small part of a larger marketing campaign run by the Queensland Government, but it still poses the question as to why an anti-smoking campaign feels the need at all to resort to this degrading message to target women. Is it because society has reached the point where the desire to be attractive is more persuasive than the desire to be healthy?
Quite frankly, as a twenty-year-old female, I definitely feel that this is the case. We are constantly faced with a barrage of articles, television segments and advertisements telling us how to look a certain way. With little emphasis on beauty beyond the physical sense, it is hard not to fall into the trap of believing that we all need to fit a certain mould to be considered attractive. I know this is not a new issue – countless reports about the distortion of body image and self-esteem in the media and society have already been published.
However, in this case, I am truly disturbed by the fact that this mentality has now even transcended on to something that has traditionally been (and, in my opinion, should remain to be) predominantly a health issue. It is commonly known that smoking causes cancer and many other health implications. As a cancer survivor, I cannot stand the fact that the message that “guys aren’t attracted to girls that smoke” is taking precedence over a message about the dire effects that smoking has on the health of the smoker and those around them. Even on the Queensland Government’s anti-smoking campaign website, it lists “your look” as a benefit of quitting smoking before “your health”. Smoking has obviously become such a difficult issue within society that this marketing campaign has felt the need to try a new strategy.
While I can appreciate any effort to encourage people to stop the detrimental habit of smoking, I think this advertisement should prompt society to consider what is actually more important to us – to be attractive or to be healthy?