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Tobacco Teeth

The piece “Tobacco Teeth” on the Mind Over Media website shows a box of cigarettes that features the face of a women. The woman is attractive, her make up is done nicely and has a great big smile with nice white perfect teeth. If looking at just that box alone one might look at it and think how she is happy and pretty and must like the cigarettes but when you see what the box is really doing you see a much different message. The same exact box with the same image is placed next to it. It shows that when one of the cigarettes is taken out of the box, the women’s smile loses a tooth because the white cigarettes are what make up the teeth of the women portrayed on the box. It is displaying that by taking out the cigarettes and smoking them, you risk taking out your teeth in the process as well. It is a proven fact that cigarette smoking can be a cause of gum disease that leads to the decay of your teeth and possibly losing of them as well so the box is helping to get across this message (“Smoking”). This piece is spreading that message in a very clever and catching way.

This piece of propaganda was made by someone who is against big tobacco companies and wanted to spread awareness on one of the effects smoking may have. According to the Mind Over Media site the picture was originally made to target smokers in Serbia because they are the top cigarette consumers (“Tobacco Teeth”). It makes sense that the creator would want to change this because it is not good for the country’s health and if the consumption rate is so high they are going to keep setting the same example for the next generations. She wants to reduce smokers by pointing out visually one of the risks that it comes with every time you pull another out of the package. Every cigarette taken out of the package takes a “tooth” away from the girls smile displayed on the wrapping. This is a good way to really show people the risk instead of just informing them of the fact that their teeth can be greatly affected by smoking cigarettes. Blowing off someone’s words of warning is a lot easier than ignoring a visual representation right in front of you incorporated right on the package. Also, as discussed in one of the readings visual propaganda can be used in order to reach semiliterate people. If instead the box had the words “may cause tooth lost and decay” on it instead of the visual representation of the girl losing the teeth it might not reach as many people, especially those who are younger since they may not be able to read it. This makes it so the message can reach younger children and they will pay attention to it instead of ignoring a warning label.

The target of this audience for this piece of propaganda is definitely those who are younger and potentially considering starting to smoke. The package shows a younger woman who is very pretty and which a gorgeous smile which disappears as you take the cigarettes out. It definitely is reaching out to a younger audience because it is playing on their insecurities of wanting to be beautiful and accepted. Most people want to keep their beauty as long as possible and will do whatever it takes to keep their best appearances at all times. This box evokes the idea that by smoking cigarettes they will lose part of their beauty piece by piece by losing their teeth. They are holding your attention by playing on the insecurity that youth has surrounding their appearance which makes their message very effective. Everyone wants to have a pretty smile and keep their teeth, so if the pack of cigarettes threatens this insecurity they will steer clear of it.

I know personally when I saw all those anti cigarette ads as a kid that showed the people pulling out their teeth and hair to “pay” for their cigarettes to show the “cost” of smoking they stuck with me personally because they grossed me out and I knew I never wanted that happening to me. To this day I still have never smoked. A lot of advertisements that have been put out to try to stop people from smoking usually outline the long-term effects that smoking can have just as this one did. The Center for Disease Control in the United States runs ad campaigns like the ones I saw as a kid and they proved to be really effective and help save lives. The research they did showed that evoking emotion was crucial in making sure these ads reached the audience and by showing deteriorated health really did the trick and made a huge difference (“CDC's Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign”). Since this was so effective in America, it is no surprise the creator of this piece went along with the same idea to try to help lower the consumption of cigarettes in Serbia and try to stop future smokers from getting into it.

This ad really plays on the culture importance that we place on appearances and wanting to be beautiful. If we did not value appearances, this ad would not be as effective because people would not care as much about losing teeth. I think most people would see this propaganda as beneficial. People will see it as a good way to represent the dangers of cigarettes by really showing people what they could be putting at risk every time they smoke one. It is important that kids especially understand these risks and we are able to deter them away from cigarettes as soon as possible so they do not try them and become addicted. This ad would be harmful to is the tobacco companies because it could cause a decrease in cigarette sales because it will get people thinking about the risks linked to cigarettes and how they can affect their health and looks.  

Work Cited

“CDC's Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign Spurred Over 100,000 Smokers to Quit; Media Campaigns

Must Be Expanded Nationally and in the States.” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 16

Nov. 2018,

“Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss | Overviews of Diseases/Conditions | Tips From

Former Smokers | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention,

“Tobacco Teeth.” Learn | Mind Over Media,