Anti-smoking commercial spoofs Philip Morris ads

Thursday, November 1, 2001

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Health is injecting a dark sense of humor into its anti-smoking campaign, releasing a TV ad that spoofs Philip Morris' commercials.

The new ad features a singing corpse, dancing tobacco executives and lyrics that include, "Every eight seconds a smoker dies -- it's becoming routine! But let's stay focused on the positive: Those seven seconds in between."

A two-minute version of the commercial starts airing Thursday in AMC movie theaters around Florida. A one-minute version will be aired in Florida television markets and on MTV and BET starting Friday.

The new commercial is part of the Department of Health's "truth" advertising campaign created from an $11.3 billion settlement with tobacco companies.

The mini-musical opens with teens questioning tobacco executives about tobacco products.

"So what if they removed a lung?" a tobacco executive sings to a patient in an operating room. "You shouldn't be depressed."

"It's really for the best," adds a nurse.

"It's something off your chest," a teen sings.

Others then sing: "And yes we know that tobacco causes cancer of the bladder! It doesn't really matter -- they make diapers for adults!"

The campaign was inspired by a Philip Morris Companies Inc. advertising campaign that focuses on the company's charitable contributions for college scholarships and free meals. A subsidiary, Philip Morris USA, is the nation's leading cigarette manufacturer.

Philip Morris USA spokesman Tom Ryan said the company supports efforts to curb youth smoking and that the commercial ignores the fact that the company recently has publicized the health problems caused by smoking.

"It certainly is funny, but unfortunately it's not true," Ryan said.

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