Maris Makes Deadly Comparisons

Tobacco’s bad for you. Like heroine and cocaine, it’s addictive, expensive and it makes you look stupid. Only problem is, it’s legal.

In a new television spot that broke last week for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, Maris, West & Baker equates the tobacco industry with drug dealers who trade on society’s problems.

“No one argues that tobacco is addictive and deadly,” said Marc Leffler, associate creative director at the Jackson, Miss., shop. “We’re just stating that tobacco is a well-known, well-marketed product. It just so happens that it’s also a legal drug that can kill you.”

In “It’s Legal,” a spot as dark as its River Styx setting, a cadre of drug pushers, led by a level-headed but cold-blooded businesswoman, conducts a meeting.

Showing clips of drug dealer arrests by DEA agents, the boss tells her crew, “It’s time to push something easier.”

When a young chemist distributes photographs of a brain’s reaction to nicotine, he presents his facts with a chilling detachment. His colleagues are skeptical until their boss holds up a cigarette.

Sixty- and 30-second versions of the commercial will air through February in Mississippi.