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Truth's Anti-Tolerance: A Response to the "Left Swipe Dat" Campaign
Do you smoke?
If you ever watch television, these days, you have probably come across the PSA "Left Swipe Dat" from the anti-tobacco campaign called truth. The song and video feature Fifth Harmony and Becky G. If not, perhaps, you have seen some of truth's other commercials promoting anti-smoking. Typically, in the videos, there are people stopping in their tracks to read a disturbing statistic linked to smoking. Clever, right? I could get behind that, even as someone who refuses to tell smokers what they should or shouldn't do.
It isn't my body.
Why wouldn't a non-smoker, like myself, want to use my energy to stop smokers? It's quite simple: It isn't my body. This isn't The Hot Chick. I'm not Jessica (Rachel McAdams), and my body hasn't been taken over by a criminal named Clive (Rob Schneider) due to both of us wearing a cursed earring. If I'm not the one smoking, it isn't my place to tell them not to.
Here's a little secret, too: Smokers know the risks.
Have you heard of the "truth" campaign?
Well, it turns out, not everyone sees it that way.
Unfortunately, the new "Left Swipe Dat" video is offensive to those who do smoke, not just to the act. It promotes intolerance above "anti-tobacco." It's particularly confusing because if you check out the about page on their site, you will see the words "We Are Here To Empower, Not Judge."
What does it mean to "swipe left?"
The concept of "swiping left" is part of the dating app for Tinder in which you are shown matches, but if you don't like them, or even just their picture, you can cross them off your list by swiping the screen left. If that isn't superficial enough, truth thinks it's intelligent to convince young people, especially teens, to reject anyone who takes pictures of themselves smoking a cigarette.
It seems logical to make this healthy non-smoking choice into a fad to convince non-smokers not to take up the habit, but the negative message about those who already smoke is just as hasty as swiping left to begin with. Tinder essentially believes that a first impression profile photo is more important than the person within. It's shallow.
What do you think of the e-cig?
Prevent one and another pops up.
Admittedly, it never hurts to look at statistics. It's more educational than making smokers out to be criminals. Last year, the CDC announced that the percentage of teen smokers was down lower than it had been in the past twenty years. These days, the new concern is over electronic cigarettes. Teen smokers and non-smokers are both more likely to use this new invention. Now, the question has become whether these are more or less dangerous. Personally, I have read contradicting stories; therefore, it's hard for me to have an opinion one way or the other. If the e-cig turns out to be harmless, and they smoke them to fit in, and do not need to smoke regular tobacco products, that would make this a safe alternative. On the other hand, if they are harmful, and kids are using them to gain acceptance, then it isn't beneficial. That would mean it probably makes it worse. Unfortunately, I don't know for certain.
How harmful is insecurity?
It's true that some young people are desperate enough for acceptance that they make choices according to what the crowd does. A former co-worker of mine, a smoker, once shared that her boyfriend at the time had begun smoking just so he had a reason to meet her. Now, that is stupid, for two reasons: One, lying about yourself to get someone's attention rarely ends well. Two, smoking is unhealthy as it is. Personally, I think the lying was the worst part of that story.
Sex and the City
Dating between smokers and non-smokers is explored in the Sex and the City series when Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) meets to-be-boyfriend Aiden (John Corbett) in season 3, episode 5: "No Ifs, Ands, or Butts." After a successful first date, Carrie pulls out a cigarette. It turns out that Aiden had no idea that she was a smoker, and isn't pleased. First, he tells her that he can't date a smoker, but once he gets to know her, he stops letting it be a deal breaker. He continues to see her, and by the end of the episode, Carrie's friends convince her to stop smoking for herself, and not for a guy. I think it's a positive message to send to viewers who do smoke. Whatever you choose to do, it should be for yourself; otherwise, it isn't likely to last.
Carrie: In the end, I did it for me. I just hope he's worth it.
Choose to be an unbiased non-smoker.
Personally, like Aiden, smoking used to be a deal breaker when it came to choosing my partners. That was until after I began to really like my last boyfriend. We connected on multiple levels: sharing the same spiritual beliefs, similar opinions on social issues, and we could make each other laugh. Should I have given up that opportunity just because he smokes? Had I done that, I wouldn't have fallen in love again, grown as a person, or come to love his family who are also smokers. Today, his family is still close with me, and even though it didn't work with him, his family has mutual love and respect for me. Imagine if I had allowed smoking to prevent that from happening.
Bring the originals back.
I wish truth would go back to making PSAs that use informative data to promote their message. For example, they once portrayed to a tobacco company what 1200 bodies would look like, using body bags, because that's how many people die of tobacco use, every day. It's educational. It doesn't harm anyone or possibly send a message of intolerance. It's straight-forward and simple. An organization shouldn't feel it necessary to make enemies out of consumers just to prove a point. Instead, their goal should be to inform people for a better world.
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