Thai Anti-Smoking PSA

June 22, 2012

Government's have long used propaganda to influence the decisions and actions of their citizens.  Our famous Uncle Sam has been used to deliver messages to the masses for years.  Images and videos of children cowering under desks were used to evoke fear and paranoia during the Cold War, and to imply that one Presidential candidate would not do what it takes to protect American's as well as another candidate.  

A new viral video is making news not only because of its message, but also because of its tactic.  The video by the Thailand Health Promotion Foundation uses little children to walk up to smokers and ask them for a light while holding a cigarette.  Each of the adults on the video decline to provide the child a light, and instead lectures them, or gives them a piece of paper that asks "You worry about me.  But why not about yourself?"

This ad is seemingly innocent enough.  More and more of the American population are becoming non-smokers.  This video might very well have been filmed as a comedy video if it was produced differently.  I've seen nothing to indicate that people are offended by the use of children, or the message being delivered.  But, there is a subtle message that should be addressed here.

Just because the adult smokers would not provide a light to the young children does not mean the adults do not care about themselves.  This imagery is the same thing that has been done with marijuana users in the United States.  These users have been labeled "losers", "dropouts", and other less than pleasant names.  But, does that make sense?  Does anyone who does not conform to what the government want them to do automatically become a loser? Or somehow not care about themselves?

Maybe the people in the video refused children a light because they do not believe the children are old enough to make a decision about using a product that can harm their health.  Maybe the adults in the video want to remain free to make their own choices about how they want to live their life, but do not wish to break the law by facilitating the use of products that are illegal to children.