For years, anti-smoking ads effectively reduced smoking by emphasizing negative images of smokers afflicted with lung cancer. Unfortunately, these ads caused the public to equate smoking and lung cancer, and villianized smokers and lung cancer patients instead of tobacco and tobacco companies. This "smoking equals lung cancer" meme is persistent, pervasive, and generates lung cancer stigma.
Lung cancer stigma increases depression and blame among patients and their family members, reduces compassion and funding for lung cancer, hinders awareness of other lung cancer risk factors, and discourages those at high risk from seeking lung cancer screening that could save their lives.
The "smoking equals lung cancer" meme is unfair and inaccurate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) state smoking affects every organ in the body and is a risk factor for twelve cancers as well as sixteen other diseases, including heart disease, the biggest killer of all. In fact, more people die of smoking-related cardiovascular disease than die of lung cancer. But publications and media usually mention smoking and smoking cessation only in association with lung cancer. This reinforces the stigma.
What do we want?
We're asking US and global cancer organizations, media companies, researchers, and professional organizations to help reduce lung cancer stigma by reducing the "smoking equals lung cancer" mindset. We're asking they do this by using the following tactics in their communications:
- avoid using any images of tobacco products in communications about lung cancer
- refer to smoking as a RISK FACTOR for cancer (instead of a cause)
- when discussing smoking in association with lung cancer, include references to other known risk factors for lung cancer
- avoid featuring communications about smoking and smoking cessation in proximity to lung cancer communications whenever possible
- discuss smoking and smoking cessation in association with EVERY cancer (not just lung cancer) and every disease linked to smoking
Why do we care?
Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer. In the US alone, a jumbo jet's worth of lung cancer patients die every day. One in sixteen people in the US will get it in their lifetime, and about 80% of them will be nonsmokers. Organizations that promote smoking cessation focus on lung cancer patients (most of whom do not smoke) rather than ALL patients whose diseases are linked to smoking. The fact is, smoking cessation cannot cure ANY cancer, nor guarantee a person will not get lung cancer. Because of stigma, many people don't know that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, and that lung cancer research is funded at a level far less per death that other major cancers. Members of the Lung Cancer Social Media (#LCSM) community want to change these facts in our lifetimes.
You can learn more about lung cancer stigma here
Supporters of this petition include [names of lung cancer organizations]
- Centers For Disease Control
- American Cancer Society
- Cure Magazine
Stop promoting lung cancer stigma in the media
LCSM Chat started this petition with a single signature, and now has 597 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.