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NPR’s On the Media has an interesting segment this week (August 2007) about ads for products that help you stop smoking. Seems, according to a study by researchers at Cornell University, the ads themselves can help you stop!

In effect, these ads become public health messages as well as motivators to quit. Although, of course, ads by product manufacturers understandably promote their own products in addition to sending the message of the benefits derived from stopping smoking.

The researchers also see benefits to other pharma ads. Those annoying prescription drug ads that drive us crazy can lead people to contact their doctors for that check-up they’ve been putting off. So that can be a good thing. But the ads also create fear in people and maybe a greater willingness to ask their doctor for drugs when non-pharma solutions might work at least as well. A trade-off that maybe can be balanced by making sure you ask your doctor (and maybe another source or two) for all your options – and then making the decision based on what YOU think is bests for you.

But clearly, day-in day-out exposure to these ads can in theory offer some positive effects on a person’s desire and determination to do something about the problem. At the very least, it makes many people aware that what they are doing really is a problem. And awareness is an important starting point for change.

So now…if only Big Pharma would come out with ads for a pill to stop war and get us to focus more on common ground than differences. All we’d have to do then is broadcast the ads endlessly … but I’d sure be willing to put up with that minor inconvenience if it would work!