June20, 2014.

Smokingand television



Therehas been great debate and controversy in regard to smoking andtelevision addiction. In the United States for instance, trends insmoking have been linked to the popular culture depicted throughtelevision screens. Previous studies carried out have always shown asignificant relationship between smoking and televisions watching. Infact, in the 1970s the United States and UK governments bannedcigarette adverts on television televisions were required to airanti-smoking adverts instead. Many critics associate smokingaddiction with too much television watching. It is indeed true thatexcessive television commercial on cigarette has had great influenceon teenage and adult smoking. Television uses appealing andsensational adverts that arouse individuals urge to smoke. Manysmokers are motivated by the appealing character of personalitiesthrough television dramas. In another perspective, there are thosewho argue that television viewing as more addictive than smoking.

Indeed,too much television watching has been associated with obesity amedical complication that arises from been overweight due toinactiveness and overconsumption of foods. Equally, smoking is anaddictive habit that is difficult to break most smokers are stuck ina habitual and routine cycle of lighting up every moment they feelthe urge. As such, given the power and sensational temptationpresented through television dramas, smokers always relapse tosmoking. While the conservatives see television viewing as lessaddictive and influential on smoking habits, the liberals see smokingand television viewing as a dogma that needs separation. Smoking andtelevision viewing are both unproductive habits that have detrimentaleffects on individuals’ health. However, critics and diehardssupporters of smoking do not agree to this notion while critics seesmoking as a primary evil related to televisions addiction, smokingdiehards are quick to point that, smoking is a lesser evil comparedto television addiction. Nonetheless, while this issue continues toraise a more contestation from all sides, smoking and televisionviewing are harmful and detrimental addictive habits.


OnApril 6, 2014, an article appeared in the Guardian, by StephanieTapley on, ‘Smoking and Television may Cause Relapsing.’ Theauthor was critical of conservatives’ view that television viewingis less addictive and influencing to smokers. This article was inresponse to many debates in the contemporary society regardingtelevision addiction, obesity and the impact of television programand commercials on tobacco smoking. According to him, both cigarettesmoking and television addiction are harmful habits(Stephenia,2014). In his opinion, visual episodes in the media are greattempters for smokers. Indeed television watching has a negativeimpact on smokers who wishes to stop smoking and positivereinforcement to potential smokers (Stephenia, 2014).

Stephaniaarticle appeals to readers, through his rational argument on effectsof television viewing and smoking. Readers and smokers are able to‘see sense’ in his arguments. While liberals might agree to thisnotion that television watching act as a positive reinforcement tomore smoking, this assertion is not conclusive smokers are rationalbeings able to make choices without the influence of the media.Stephania pointed out that, smokers who watch television dramas weremore likely to relapse to smoking temptations than those smokers whodo not. Stephanie’s argument contains logic and is justifiabletelevision dramas are sensational and always impose fictional scenesof smoking characters that in turn influences viewers urge to smoke(Stephenia, 2014). While this argument is true, Stephania’sarguments are not summative there are other factors that couldinfluence smokers to continue with their addictive habit.

Inanother controversial article, Dave Kopel, in his article, ‘Tuneout, light up’ that appeared on his website on May 29, 2000, hedisagrees with the notion that both television viewing and smokingare significant addiction habits. The article was written as aresponse during a time when there were numerous debates on harmfuleffects of smoking and television watching. The article style is aninformative and persuasive using logical argument to appeal to thereaders. However, what strikes the reader at first glance is theassumption that the author want to advocate more smoking thantelevision watching, but as one reads on, the author presents a soberdebate on smoking and television viewing. The article title, ‘Tuneout, light up,’ is put, in a way that seems to promote cigarettesmoking than television viewing. He offered a more puzzling view byhis argument that, ‘in terms of destroying years of life,television is far worse than tobacco.’

Theargument presented by the article is that television viewing is amajor addiction evil than tobacco smoking. No one can refute theclaim this that excessive television watching is detrimental tohealth however, celebrating smoking as a lesser evil to televisionwatching is a fallacy. In particular, the author links excessivetelevision watching to time wastage related to smoking that onlytakes few minutes. Indeed, Dave has a strong point many televisionviewers waste great deal of time in front of televisions than beenactive in other life activities compared to time spent by smokers(Kopel, 2000).It is also true that, too much television viewing predisposeindividuals to bad health risks like obesity while tobacco smokingmakes people lose weight. However, while Dave’s argument containssome grains of truth, it is a fallacy to state that smoking is alesser evil and hence weak health effects compared to too muchtelevisions watching (Kopel,2000).The reality is that, smoking has similar detrimental addiction habitsjust like excessive television viewing.

Nonetheless,Dave argument on tuning out televisions and lighting up is anexcellent idea on preventing excessive smoking watching televisiondramas and commercials have a negative impact in promoting moresmoking. If individuals cut on watching television, they would alsocut on cigarette smoking overtime. In fact, the author conclusionsabound the sentiments that everything (tobacco smoking and televisionwatching) requires sense of moderation to cut on health risksassociated with such addictions. While, Dave’s article seems toappeal to smokers in the first paragraphs and through the articletitle, his opinions and arguments are logical smoking and excessivetelevision watching are equal evils that require moderation. Bydrawing up a line that smoking is less harmful habit compared totelevision viewing, the author is successful in persuading thereaders on how to moderate television and smoking addictions (Kopel,2000).

Thedebate on television addiction rages on, Wes Moore wrote asensational article on television addiction in the ‘Journal ofcognitive liberties’ 2001. The author was writing at a time whenobesity and drug abuse became rampant scenarios in the United Statessociety. What captures the reader in this article is that thesensational title ‘Television opiate of masses.’ In a morecaptivating paraphrase, Wes equates television viewing to opiumdrugs, ostensibly to inform and pursued the audience on harmfuleffects of televisions. In fact, according to various surveys onobesity, researchers attributed the overweight condition with anexcessive immobility associated with too much television watching.Many people know the harmful addictive effects of opium drugstherefore, the author uses this knowledge to appeal to the audience(television viewers) on the danger of televisions. According toMoore, televisions were introduced to masses as an instrument of mindcontrol as well as an addictive opiate (Wes Moore, 2001). In asimilar manner as Kopel, Moore’s equates television viewing tosubstance abuse in fact, gives neurological evidence to support hisarguments. In the same way opium drugs induce addictive cravings,depression, anxiety and frustrations when their supply level is lowin the human blood, he asserts that this is the same predicamenttelevision addict faces.

Indeedtelevision addiction cannot be underrated however, comparing thelevel of television addiction to drug abuse is an overratedperspective. While excessive television watching is detrimental tohealth and results in time wastage, its addictiveness does notmeasure up to opium drug addiction. It is true that televisionaddiction is a physical and psychological problem, however, unlikedrugs individuals can withdraw from television addiction with easecompared to drug addiction (Wes Moore, 2001). Nonetheless, in drawingthis dichotomy, the author wanted to appeal to his audience(television addicts) on the effects of television viewing on the wellbeen of a person’s psychological and physical form. AnalyzingMoore’s article closely reveals some elements of justified claimsabout excessive television viewing (Wes Moore, 2001).

Moore’smessage is similar to Koppel the two observe that television viewingis harmful compared to drug abuse or smoking. Throughout the article,the author stresses that television is more harmful than addictiondrugs and that it was meant to brainwash the society and fill thepsychological void left by meaningless and terrified lives. Thesesentiments by the author present a paradox while it is agreed thatexcessive television viewing is harmful, this does not mean thetelevision has nothing to benefit its viewers. Televisions are sourceof vast informational data which is vital for society and as such onecannot write off its effectiveness due to addiction associated withit. The Moore’s article appears obsessed with a negative perceptionof television viewing, a view that contradicts the reality. While toomuch television is harmful, the society has much to learn through it,what is relevant is modification of time spent watching unnecessarytelevision programs (Wes Moore, 2001). Nonetheless, despite thecharacteristic parallelism the author depicts television viewing todrug abuse his article is successful in persuading and informing thereaders on harmful effects of excessive television watching.


Debateon smoking and television addiction has been raging for years.Serious debates on tobacco smoking led to a ban on televisioncommercials due to the negative influence they had on individuals.Both smoking and excessive television watching are detrimentaladdictive habits. While television watching leads to obesity and timewastage, cigarette addiction has its own health risks on the users’body. Televisions programs play a significant role in influencingsmokers relapse back to smoking as well as acting as a positivereinforce to would be smokers. Some critics view television watchingas more harmful addictive habit than smoking or another drugaddiction. However, it is evident that the majority agree that, inall cases of addiction, some degree of modifications is required tocut down on addiction levels and avoid health risks.


KopelDave, 2000, ‘TuneOut, Light Up,’ National Review Online, Accessed from, 2014, ‘Smoking and Television may cause relapsing,’ TheGuardian, Accessed from

WesMoore, 2001, ‘The Journal Of Cognitive Liberties’ Center ForCognitive Liberty And Ethics,’ Vol. 2, Issue No. 2 pages 59-66,Accessed from