By Robby Soave
Think anti-smoking scare tactics can't get any more ridiculous? Check out this commercial released by anti-smoking activist organization Ydouthink and the Barber Martin advertising agency in Virginia.
Setting aside the issue of whether this is a responsible way to educate people about the ill effects of smoking (SMOKERS ARE PUPPY-KILLERS!), let's take the message at face value. Technically speaking, yes, pets can choke to death from attempting to swallow cigarette butts. Then again, pets can choke on just about any appropriately-sized household item, including cotton balls, loose change, and dryer sheets. Indeed, chocolate is among the more poisonous substances for dogs, and owners should make sure not to leave chocolate within reach of their pets. But if a commercial depicted a puppy dying from chocolate ingestion, and the intended conclusion was that people shouldn't eat chocolate, such a commercial would be rightly mocked. Ydouthink's commercial doesn't prove you shouldn't smoke; it proves that anti-smoking zealots will do anything to scare people, particularly young people, away from cigarettes.
Ydouthink has an arguably worse commercial that features a cat choking on a cigarette butt. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to see commercials asserting that cigarette butts will kill Santa Claus, summer vacation, and the Disney Channel in the near future.
Read Jacob Sullum on hypocrisy and the anti-smoking movement here.
UPDATE: Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko blogs about something even more dangerous to man's best friend here.