A website commissioned this fall by the Cancer Society of Finland allows you to bestow the unsightly and deadly effects of tobacco smoke on a male or female human body. Designed by creative agency 358 of Helsinki, “Tobacco Body,” which is available in several different languages, differs from the black lung photos you were shown in school by focusing on the holistic effects of smoking, even if they’re less life-threatening. You may not be dying of cancer right now because you smoke, but sexual impotence or acne are issues that are very real to young people who are at risk of smoking.
It’s not clear, however, how the site will be used educationally. As a commenter on MediaBistro’s Ads of the World pointed out, it’s unlikely that young people will go to the site on their own accord. And despite being promoted as “for the iPad age,” and presumably an iPad-equipped classroom the site isn’t actually engineered for mobile browsers and seems not to display text on them. Some have also questioned the power of imagery in general, with researchers at Stirling University in the UK finding that graphic labels on cigarette packs did little for current smokers. They did, however, discourage non-smokers for starting.
Still, this interactive exhibit should be noted for its explanations and easy-to-engage with design. Perhaps all it needs is a social media campaign to get kids noticing it.