The 6 Grossest Anti-Smoking Ads of All Time


Turns out Mayans and Aztecs were smoking tobacco in tubes as far back as the ninth century. That was way back. Like before SNL started and shit. By the early 1800s, the French had gotten hold of the tiny cigars and dubbed them "cigarettes," and from then on smoking was as suave as a Frenchman in an age before indoor plumbing.

Sometime in the late 1960s, people started thinking that smoking wasn't super cool anymore. Not a lot of people, mind you, but some people. Most everyone else was still on the James Bond bandwagon of irresponsible sex, drinking, and regular visits to flavor country.

For most of the '70s and '80s, smoking was still about as sexy as a boob just hanging out, so people had a lot of trouble with the whole anti-smoking movement. It wasn't until the '90s, when everyone realized that cancer was about as sexy as a 2012 Madonna boob just hanging out, that we really decided, as a people, to start putting serious effort into anti-smoking campaigns. And that, in turn, led to the ever-increasing need in advertising to trump the gross factor of previous ads. Apparently there's an abundance of research the rest of us aren't aware of to suggest that people will only stop smoking if you can make them gag. And you have to keep making them gag with newer, gaggier ads. Eventually, anti-smoking ads will literally just be diseased organs stapled into magazines, but until then, we have ones like these. Let's browse them in order of progressive grossness.

#6. The Future of Smoking

In the 1980s, Britain wanted you to know where we were headed if you kept smoking those fags. This smoker's dystopian future is full of creepy Steve Buscemi cousins who sit in their hazy rooms with their shirts unbuttoned, puffing away on whatever brand Brits enjoy, the Colonel's Lament or Wiltshire Slims, breathing through their giant Adrien Brody noses, ignoring sounds with their tiny ears and not seeing shit with their milky, dual-lidded eyes.

The gist of the ad is that you need to be this kind of super freak to enjoy smoking. But you're not a super freak, are you? You're a Spice Girl, or Robbie Williams, or that guy with the funny eye from Radiohead. You're eating spotted dick and sipping your tea under a gloomy sky, waiting for your shift as a chimney sweep to start.

The overall creep factor of this ad is kind of low, but it's there. It's like looking into Iggy Pop's house and seeing what he does during his downtime. On the universal grossness scale, this ranks a 3, or what is more commonly known as carrying on a conversation with a nude senior citizen in a locker room.

#5. The Fart

Youth smoking is a big issue, because kids are dumb and you can convince them to do damn near anything with minimal effort. Like there's this neighbor kid, I was all "If I see you fucking up my yard again I will skin you and your parents alive and no one will ever catch me because I know at least six ways to slip into your house unseen. I'm in there all the time when you're sleeping, so don't think you have any safety. Go on, tell someone, who's going to believe you?" and he was legit scared, even though I only know one way into his house. Kids are idiots.

This commercial, targeted toward teens and touting some curious statistic about smoking going down among that demographic, uses the power of fart humor to get the message home that no one smokes anymore. See, because this one kid wants to light a fart, only there's no lighters around because no one smokes anymore. So then we're left to determine for ourselves whether this is a good thing or a bad thing as the kid cuts loose a wicked wet fart for his friends.

For simply suggesting that filling a room with noxious ass wind is superior to smoking, this commercial gets a slightly higher grossness rating than the last one, putting it on par with grandma kissing you on the lips and holding it a beat too long.

#4. The Crotch Campaign


These ads have been mentioned on Cracked before, but if I may be so bold, I will turn around our previous critique of them and take umbrage with the meaning -- dicks don't cause cancer. The ads themselves feature a variety of young people in full on pre-suck mode before a dude in a suit. You can't see the guy in the suit, it could be Taylor Lautner for all we know, but it seems like the implication is that it's an older person and these teens are probably not old enough to have either a cigarette or a face full of man chode.

People were originally offended by these ads because they felt that they minimized and marginalized sexual abuse. That's a red herring. These ads are actually demonizing blowjobs, or at the very least suggesting that a cigarette is like an undesirable wang. What makes wang undesirable, assuming you're in a situation in which you'd maybe want wang to begin with? Poor hygiene. Otherwise, we're talking face rape. So basically tobacco is a cross between face rape and cheese dick. This is the worst anti-smoking campaign ever (not the grossest, that comes later).

For putting cigarette smoking on par with the shattered dreams of so many waitresses in Los Angeles, this ad ranks about as gross as accidentally putting your finger through the paper when wiping.

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Felix Clay

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