Anti-Smoking Ad – CONAC (Chilean Corporation against Cancer)

Source: Caffarena, P (2008)

In today’s media-heavy advertising world, we are no longer strangers to shocking and controversial ad campaigns. Whether print or digital media, these ads frequently use politically incorrect images to make their point. Additionally, in most of the extreme examples of controversial ads, companies use children to get their messages across. This raises an ethical question itself, whether it’s right to use children in advertising. Some people would agree that these kids don’t know what is happening at such a young age and have to live the rest of their lives as the poster child for a controversial ad campaign. The reason behind most advertisements is to make a point, and sometimes incorporating harsh images prove to be an effective method. Also, including children often appeals to the audience’s emotional tendencies.

CONAC, or the Chilean Corporation against Cancer, featured this advertisement in their campaign ‘Smoking is Murder’ released in 2008. CONCAC is a non-profit organisation designed to serve the community through education and research into treatment of cancer. In 2008, it was estimated that 22,000 people died from a type of cancer in Chile. The author of this poster is saying that second hand smoke is affecting people around the smoker, including children. The tagline, “Smoking isn’t just suicide, its murder” is a very severe statement, especially featured with the image of a young child suffocating.

The reason behind controversy in this particular advertisement arises from the child looking extremely distraught, suffocating from a cloud of smoke resembling a plastic bag. This would be particularly effective in appealing to emotional tendencies of parents as it is common knowledge that children can often choke on plastic. The smoke in the image, representing a bag, surrounds the child’s head, causing him to not breathe. The black background can suggest a lot of things; perhaps the dark themes and sorrow of cancer and other diseases. However, I believe the black background is used to focus attention solely on the child’s harrowing facial expression. The black and white contrast, the white being the child’s face, also emphasises the proposed effects of second hand smoking.

At the end of the day, I believe CONAC wants to make the point that people have the right to destroy their own body with smoking, but smoking also affects surrounding people who inhale the toxins, including children. CONAC wants people to stop smoking for the sake of other people.



Paulino Caffarena, (2008), Smoking isn’t just suicide. It’s murder. [ONLINE]. Available at: %5BAccessed 19 March 16].


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