Legacy Campaign Takes On Secondhand Smoke

2ndhand smoke

The Legacy Foundation is confronting the issue of secondhand smoke as a workplace hazard with a campaign tied to Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

The campaign, via Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, which also did Legacy's "Truth" campaign, spotlights the pulmonary hazards of working in the restaurant and bar industries. It does so with ironic ads that apply clichés about quitting smoking with the exigencies of work. The new spots -- three print and two radio -- reiterate how many workers who need a job simply have no choice in the matter.

The effort elaborates on the 2006 Surgeon General's Report that shows there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, and that service workers exposed to it have a 50% increased risk of lung cancer.

Although there are places like New York, which has banned smoking in restaurants and bars, Cheryl G. Healton, president and CEO of Legacy, says 37% of the bar-working population doesn't have that luxury. Like 26% of restaurant workers in the U.S., they work in regions where there are no local and state clean indoor air laws.



The print ads show waitresses and copy says things like, "I've tried everything to stop secondhand smoking, but I'm addicted to paying rent." One of the ironic radio ads, parodying military-service pitches, "recruits" adventurous types to work in restaurants and bars in which people can light up. The voiceover calls for daring types who want more than just a job -- people with a "pinch of adrenaline and a dash of people skills" to apply at fictive Grandma Minnie's Riverside Café.

The spot concludes with the fact that 50,000 people die each year from secondhand smoke in the United States, making working in bars and restaurants dangerous. It then asks smokers to take it outside. The ads exhort restaurants and bars not to "make your waitresses choose between their health and their paycheck."

The print ads feature people of color as well, and the campaign makes the point that getting lung cancer by taking orders is not an equal-opportunity risk. The campaign says nearly 85% of all white-collar workers report working under smoke-free policies in their workplaces versus 75% of all service workers and 63% of blue-collar workers. The effort also points out that most wait staff is made up of women.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is hoping to put more prominent labels on cigarette packs than the small, effectively invisible rectangular text warnings on the side of cigarette packs. The goal is to reduce smoking to 12% of the population by 2020. In the United States, 23.1% of men smoke and 18.3% of women are smokers.

The agency last week proposed a new rule that would require prominent -- and graphic -- color photos and warning statements to dissuade young smokers. It says the new graphic warnings cover much of the front of cigarette packs. The images would be hard to bear: intra-surgical "in vivo" shots of pulmonary malignancies, gross tumors, diseased lungs, and even a corpse who has passed away from lung cancer.

Legacy says data show that the rate of decline in youth and adult smoking has stalled and that 80% of current smokers tried their first cigarettes before they graduated high school.

Julie Cartwright, SVP of communications for the Legacy Foundation, says this is not the first secondhand smoke campaign from Legacy. She says the last was three years ago, a humorous campaign with a "don't pass gas" theme, directed by actor Jason Alexander.

"Obviously, the message behind the ads is -- folks who work in these situations have to make difficult choices between jobs and health," she says, adding that "it is especially timely because Lung Cancer Awareness is this month and this Thursday is the Great American Smoke Off."

Legacy has also partnered with the "Bodies" exhibition, per Cartwright. "Bodies" features actual latex-infused cadavers. She says the exhibition is loaning Legacy both healthy and diseased sets of lungs. "We will be making appearances with these lungs to raise awareness this month."

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