“Can I get a light?”
This question is amongst the most common between smokers. College student smokers are asked this question often, even on a daily basis.
What if this question were to come from an unusual source. Maybe even a considerably inappropriate source?
In June 2012, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation uploaded an anti smoking ad onto YouTube. The anti smoking ad has quickly been dubbed the “most affective anti smoking ad.”
The anti smoking video, called the “Smoking Kid,” features children walking up to adult smokers asking for a light.
The children in the ad are actors but the adults smoking are unsuspecting participants in the project.
Every adult asked is shocked that a child with a cigarette in hand is asking for a light.
The anti smoking video was originally uploaded a year and a half ago but has just recently become viral on Facebook, generating over 600,000 hits as opposed to last year’s 100,000.
The video begins with the statement “adults know that smoking is harmful, but don’t remind themselves of this fact.”
Once a “smoking kid” approaches the adults, each adult lectures the child and convinces the child not to smoke.
The first adult starts by saying, “I’m not giving it to you,” and the second adult tells the smoking kid “cigarettes contain insecticide.”
The video goes on to state “every adult filmed reminded the children that smoking is bad.”
One adult tells the smoking kid “if you smoke, you die faster. Don’t you want to live and play?”
Another adult warns the smoking kid of the harmful affects from smoking, “if you smoke, you suffer from lung cancer, emphysema and stokes.”
The smoking kid hands each adult a pamphlet after being turned down for a light.
The pamphlet opens to say, “You worry about me, but why not about yourself?”
Each adult looks around for the child as their faces are filled with confusion and discomfort.
The video shows that a few of the smokers quickly threw away their cigarette or put their cigarettes away, showing that this experiment was affective at that moment.
The “smoking kid” campaign went on to win a Bronze medal from the Outdoor Lion at Cannes in 2012, a Gold for Special Service at the One Show Awards and a Silver Film Lotus at the 2013 Adfest Awards.
When the video was uploaded in YouTube, number of views reached over 5,000,000 views to date and gained the attention of international coverage on Al Jazeera, Reuters and New York Daily News.
“The unscripted moments are really quite heartrending – and effective,” according to the foundation. “It got a 40 percent increase in calls about how to stop smoking.”
The most affective element in the ad isn’t the use of children or the unscripted responses from the smoking adults. It comes down to something much simpler than that.
Why is it that we worry about other people, forgetting to worry about ourselves?