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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch Your Stoma
This ad uses gritty realism to warn you of the dangers of smoking. In this case, the gritty realism is all the shit that's going to get stuck in your neck hole, or, alternately, fall out of your neck hole. The big lesson you need to take away here is that you're going to have a neck hole, and if we're ranking the desirability of body holes, the neck hole is way down near the bottom. Even further down than the asshole, because for all the bad press assholes get, they still serve a valuable purpose and, if I may be so uncouth as to suggest it, they can be great at parties, or just for a night in by yourself.
This campaign was put together by the CDC, so they could have used zombies or Ebola monkeys to get their point across, but instead they opted for a guy who apparently learned the hard way that if you bend over with a stoma, all the food in your stomach rolls out of your neck. I take issue with this because, although I'm no biologist, I am pretty confident that currently when I bend over, my dinner doesn't pool at my Adam's apple. I think if you bend over and food rolls out of your neck, you have two causes for alarm here. One is, of course, the neck hole. But the other issue, unmentioned in this commercial, is that your stomach may be little more than a warm, damp sack attached to your neck. I think most of us have some kind of plug down in there that prevents our dinner from rolling around all over. And really, if we didn't, wouldn't the gymnastics portion of the Olympics be nothing more than really thin girls spraying an international audience with coleslaw and pierogi as they flip all about?
The commercial also drops a quick line about watching the hole when you shave, which makes me think that the risk of getting a bellyful of Alpine-fresh-scented shaving cream with stubble in it is a constant hazard of not paying attention to one's razor-handling skills. On the upside, all you need to do is bend over to make it all run out again.
The grossness level here is clearly pretty high and effectively makes me not want to smoke, no matter how cool the other kids will think I am. I'm putting this on par with discovering a pube that isn't yours on the soap after you've washed your face.
Bulging Tumor Smoke
Straight out of the morbid and drab U.K. comes this terrifying commercial that plays out like a short from David Cronenberg's video collection. It starts out awful enough, depicting an Englishman stepping outside in the morning to enjoy a coffee and a smoke. This being England, though, it's probably tea, and the sky is as gray as a senior citizen's undercarriage.
Our protagonist has the thousand-yard stare of any Englishman who's pictured the queen naked as he puffs away, oblivious to the world, his skin wan and waxy like so many of his countrymen. But even worse, with each subsequent puff, a malignant, fleshy red tumor pulses and grows out of his cigarette like some kind of dreadful clown penis from a particularly unappealing horror movie that involves tumorous clown penises. Why a clown? Because it makes it sound more disgusting, doesn't it? Like if you had to choose between seeing the tumorous, pulsing penis of an accountant and the tumorous, pulsing penis of a clown, you'd totally go accountant, because you'd know that if you looked up, if you dared raise your eyes for one awful moment, the accountant would be looking down and weeping softly, but the clown ... the goddamn clown would be looking back at you. And he'd smile. And in that very moment, your entire brain would be reduced to so much pudding. Or, since we're in the U.K., custard. Goddamn custard.
On the overall grossness scale, for making a cigarette into a living, throbbing this, I'm going to have to say that this commercial is as gross as the entire previous paragraph I just wrote. Seriously, picture it.
The Mouth of Sauron
Did you watch that video? If you didn't, I have something to show you.
Cigarettes cause you to become literally the most terrifying thing across 12 hours of epic fantasy films that had an unheard of special effects budget. Giant spiders, Orcs, goblins, spirits of the damned, the Ring Wraiths? No, not creepy enough. The Mouth of Sauron was far and away the most terrifying part of the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. And it's what you look like if you get oral cancer.
In researching this article, I have queued up this video at least six times, and I honestly have no idea what that woman says. I just lose myself staring at her terrifying maw. It's like it's talking to me and my brain doesn't want to hear what it says because of the mouth it's coming from.
"Oh my God, lady, your face is terrifying!"
"My master, Sauron the Great, bids thee welcome. Is there any in this rout with authority to treat with me?"
"How do you eat anything? Can you chew gum? Is this even real?"
"Ah, Felix, I have a token I was bidden to show thee!"
"You look like Clive Barker made you in his spare time!"
At this point the whole "quoting Return of the King" falls apart, because then she'd have to toss out a mithril vest and make jokes about killing Frodo, and obviously she never tossed me a mithril vest, she's just a creepy mouth lady in a YouTube video. I'm not insane. But do you see what I mean? My God, just look at the photo.
This one obviously tops the grossness scale. It's going to be a while before we find a commercial to beat this one, and for that, this ranks pretty much at the pinnacle of grossness. Like using your mouth to pull raw room-temperature chicken out of Ke$ha's bathtub drain, or maybe your dentist suffering a quick and unexpected bout of projectile vomiting while he's leaning over your forced-open mouth. That's gross, right?