The Instigator
Con (against)
1 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Are the "truth" anti-smoking commercials sending an appropriate and effective message?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/13/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 796 times Debate No: 75261
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




I'll leave all my arguments for when this debate is accepted. Simply putting my stance in my opening statement, no the ads are not sending an appropriate and effective message.


Yes, the ads do send an appropriate and effective message.
I eagerly await your opening points.
Debate Round No. 1


I'm glad you accept. As for a campaign that opposes something goes, the "truth" ads have often used misleading information, shocking imagery, and shallow tactics to get their point across. As far as the shock tactics go, that's all well and good to an extent, being that it shows the extreme consequence of smoking. However, this method displays these extremes as an inevitable occurrence due to smoking when this is simply not true. In prior years, they used skewed reports, outdated information( see "criticism"), and misleading ingredients of cigarettes( that while can be found in them, are also found in many products that seem to not have the stigma that cigarettes do making their point moot. As of today, I'm sure most people are aware of the "Left swipe dat" music video used for the commercial which plays off smokers as someone who needs to be quickly dismissed, while at the same time showing a man eating a copious amount of food and talking about a woman's attractive physical features, then dismissing her because she's a smoker. This shows the hypocrisy and shallowness of their new tactics.


Before I start with my points, I'd like to offer the following critical definitions.

Oxford dictionary defines appropriate as "Suitable or proper in the circumstances". In this case, we will consider the circumstances to be the modern landscape of advertisement and activism. It also defines effective as "Successful in producing a desired or intended result".

The "Truth" Anti-smoking campaign is one of the most effective anti-smoking campaigns, period. According to Krisberg 04 ( , two years after the debut of the initial campaign of "truth", high school smokers dropped from 28% to less than 23%, which was a drop greater than 1 million high schoolers, or about 18%. This is certainly a substantial amount, and more than many other campaigns can claim. Therefore, I believe it's safe to say that this campaign is certainly effective, and the majority of this debate will be centered around the appropriate part of the resolution.

The Truth uses a style of advertising that certainly diverges from older counter-tobacco norms such as "just say no style campaigns, and targets a more modern audience with a more modern message ( The usage of modern phenomena and youth icons lends itself to this, and thus I believe that is certainly appropriate for both it's target audience and era, as it uses memes, references to the beloved nyan cat, tinder and other popular symbols for modern youth. It certainly is no more inappropriate than other genres of advertising that may present the same factual information differently in order to advance their point; almost all groups have interpretations of data and/or facts. If this was not the case, there would be no debates, only reels of statistics - and while the information may be misinterpreted, the information is in fact still valid and "appropriate" in the sense that it is suitable in todays world.

-Skewed reports/outdated info
The author you cite claims in one instance, the "truth" used poor grammar to distort a factual statistic over how tobacco affected differing races. While it is true that the statistic may have been presented in a nonfactual light, the statistic was still completely accurate. This was your authors only objection. Furthermore, this point doesn't address the broader question of whether or not it is APPROPRIATE (for the modern world), only that it is potentially misleading.

-Shocking Imagery
Images, while shocking, are no more shocking than many ads in other advertising campaigns that are explicit violent, sexual, racist, sexist, horrifying, or homophobic. The Truth campaign merely uses cat pee and dog poop as a depiction of what is being emitted both into the air and the lungs as a consequence as a result of smoking. While I will not include links of said ads because there are so many of them, I am certain that my opponent has seen ads significantly worse than these anti-smoking ads, and shrugged them off.

-Misleading information
Still completely factual, and doesn't address the broader question of appropriate-ness.

While it is true that some of the characters in the video are quick to dismiss smokers,
a. this is a music video and so they can't spend a minute watching a single person having a solo about the pros and cons of a smoker
b. usage of tinder and other fast dating sites, when determining "left swipe" or "right swipe" is usually very quick
c. the appearance of the man or the amount of food literally shouldn't matter, and isn't an argument
d. attitudes towards smoking are well reflected in this video - according to Theo Nestor (, 58% of people wouldn't even consider dating a smoker, as not only is the scent harsh, but smoking causes diseases, as well as is a costly habit - assuming a pack a day at the median state, Kansas, at $6.47 a day (, that racks up to about $2300. All these makes someone who smokes a significantly worse possibility for a S.O.
Once again, whether or not these characters are hypocritical or flippant, it doesn't necessarily address the question of whether or not the campaign is appropriate, as many other campaigns feature shallowness; after all, as being a visual medium, it is only logical that advertisements push their products via extreme or powerful imagery.
Debate Round No. 2


While it is true that teen smoking has decreased recently, the assumption that the campaign had a role in it holds very low merit. This is more likely due to the rise in electronic cigarette smoking being that its a much safer alternative and can be used indoors( Not only that, but various other sources of nicotine have increased in use, especially smokeless tobacco. The Centre for Disease Control estimates that almost half of high schoolers use tobacco in general, indicating that a more likely reason for the decline in smoking is simply other methods of nicotine, therefore showing no signs of the campaign itself as being effective.

The purpose of the ads are to sway people away from smoking; Oxford defines "proper" as "According to or respecting recognized social standards or conventions; respectable, especially excessively so" and "Truly what something is said or regarded to be; genuine", suitable being very similar to this definition. In both these contexts, it is clear to see that what is portrayed is not respectable in the "left swipe dat" commercial, being that they use a hypocritical argument(showing the man doing an action juat as unhealthy as smoking whilst shaming someone for smoking) and shallowness to get their message across, meaning that yes, that was a valid argument. In the shocking imagery, I seem to have mistaken a CDC commercial for a truth one. That being said, my point that it's not genuine is still valid, but we're not talking about that particular group. The point that the group was trying to make with the chemicals found in cigarettes as is still not valid, being that smoke quickly dissipates in the air, as well as many other more toxic chemicals that are commonly found in nature are strewn into the air at much higher rates than tobacco chemicals are. This doesn't effect nature and lives as greatly as its portrayed, being that billions of plants obsorb these chemicals and produce oxygen(chemicals I'm referring to are methane, ether, carbon dioxide, ect).

As you failed to mention or read, as for the skewed/outdated information, I was referring to a commercial that claims that Big Tobacco issued a pseudo study many decades ago that stated "tobacco gives black males 50% more lung cancer than white males.", which not only provides my point that they use outdated information from an era of ignorance and racism as an argument against a company that makes no public statements on such subjects anymore, it also shows that they skewed the interpretation of the by failing to use common sense and logic; the quote, while worded poorly, is clearly meant to be read as 'Black males are 50% more likely than white males to contract lung cancer from tobacco.'. Again, while being from a time when studies like this were common and misused highly for racial means, that doesn't necessarily make this racist. In fact, there have been more recent studies that have shown black males to statistically have more cancer results as a result from smoking ( This does show that the "truth" movement skewed facts and used outdated data to make a point.


Sheldor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Pase66 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff last round so conduct goes to con. I felt pro made a better case, as they addressed many of cons points and I felt made more convincing arguments. They are tied for the other categories.