As our group continued to “QUEEC” Chicagoans’ smoking habits, we soon realized that what we were doing was not easy. It was hard to find smokers, especially teen smokers, that wanted to talk about their addiction. At times, when I asked if I could interview my peers, they were hesitant. They instantly turned to believing we were going to show them in a bad light and slap their hands for smoking. I did not know exactly how to deal with this at first. I knew I did not have a problem with smokers, but they didn’t. How could I show my curiosity without scaring potential interviewees off?
I immediately thought of the truth® organization. I’m sure most teens have seen a truth® commercial on MTV at one time or another. They are powerful, but most of all, completely truthful. I turned to their website out of curiosity to learn more. At the top of their “About Us” page is a section titled “We ♥ Smokers”. The organization makes it clear that they do not have anything against smokers or non-smokers, they are neutral. It is the Big Tobacco companies that they have a problem with. The misleading ads and secrets behind all of the money they are reeling in from smokers, particularly teens. Another philosophy they have when dealing with the issue is “Don’t Say Don’t”. In other words, they know that if they tell people not to smoke, they won’t quit, and most of the time teens will continue to smoke in order to rebel. Well, truth® recognizes their need for rebellion and sees it as following the tobacco industry’s orders instead.
Within the first four years the truth® campaigns have prevented 450,000 teens from becoming loyal customers to “Big Tobacco” and have saved $5.4 billion in health care costs. With 1/3 of youth smokers eventually dying from tobacco-related diseases, truth® calculated the amount of lives they have already saved…150,000. That is huge progress that cannot be overlooked. I am an avid believer in truth®. They can’t please everyone, and they don’t want to. They know the campaigns present controversial issues, but they also know that everything they are saying is 100% truthful. With truth® on the job, the tobacco industry will not be able to manipulate their products, research, and ads. Instead, teen smokers and non-smokers will become informed smokers and non-smokers, and truth® will continue to produce raw, unfiltered facts about tobacco.