Deemed as the best anti-smoking ad ever created, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation released a new PSA, called “Smoking Kid,” that will make smokers realize that their habit is affecting a lot more people than just themselves. In the 2:38 clip, two young kids each go up to strangers on the street that are smoking and ask for a light for their cigarette. As expected, the adults were baffled at their question, and begin to lecture the kids about the health hazards of smoking, such as:
“No. You are too young.”
“If you smoke, you die faster. Don’t you want to live and play?”
“Smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema.”
It’s all going well, until the kids bust out their own question for the adults.
“If it’s so bad, why are you smoking?”
Before they leave, they hand the adults a piece of paper that reads: “You worry about me. Why not about yourself? Reminding yourself is the most effective warning to help you quit.” Included was a help hotline at the bottom. Since it was uploaded on the Internet, it received over 5 million Youtube views in 10 days, was shared all over the news stations, and there was a 40% increase in phone inquiries by smokers who wish to quit.
What makes this PSA so successful is that first, it strikes an emotional cord in the viewers by putting him in the smoking adult’s perspective and raises concern for the child endangering his young life. Only after their hearts have been softened, then the PSA dives into the same smoking risks and dangers that we all already know. This time, the dangers are more successfully delivered to our heart and mind. If we just heard those same old messages first, it would be easy to just nod our heads and say, “yes, I know,” and just brush it off and continue living life because we have heard them all before. All the warnings become like white noise that is easy to ignore.
What has to happen first is to let our emotional wall down. Seeing young and naïve kids asking for a light yanks us out of our smoking slumber to immediately tell them how bad smoking is, hoping that they will understand. Once we are hit with the note, it makes us perceive that the concern we have for the child should be applied towards ourselves too.
It is the same theory as teaching; you learn something better when you are teaching it to someone else. The adults are relaying the same dangers they have always heard themselves, and no doubt the message on the piece of paper will make those dangers stick with them more so now.