#JeffWeCan: John Oliver Encourages World To Make Jeff The Diseased Lung The New Face Of Marlboro

Tobacco — the agricultural equivalent of U2, according to John Oliver — is, perplexingly, still a juggernaut of a crop. As seen on a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” American tobacco farmers are still making a massive profit even though only 18 percent of adults today smoke. Oliver points out that the reason for this is likely because even though U.S. adults are smoking less, many adults and children in other countries are smoking more.

In a world where cigarettes cost a dime each in Indonesia in 2011 and were sold to schoolchildren in a kiosk sponsored by Marlboro Light (owned by Philip Morris International), what are health advocates to do? Especially when, as Oliver points out, small countries like Togo are being threatened with litigation by Philip Morris when they attempt to do things like warn their citizens — 40 percent of whom can’t read — of the dangers of smoking by putting pictures on cigarette packages?

Oliver has an approach that he believes will be a great compromise between horrifying images of cancerous lungs and the misleading brand-based images of things like the Marlboro Man: Jeff the Diseased Lung wearing a cowboy hat.

Jeff the Diseased Lung covers all bases of the cigarette world, providing smokers a graphic representation of what will happen to their lungs when they smoke, but at the same time projecting that sense of laid-back cowboy cool that the Marlboro Man has come to represent. “Last Week Tonight” has even gone so far as to put up a Jeff billboard in Montevideo, Uruguay, and send Jeff T-shirts to Togo, whose citizens seem very pleased with them.

Oliver urges everyone to use the hashtag #JeffWeCan, along with Google searches for Marlboro and Jeff the Diseased Lung, to increase awareness and associate Marlboro with a diseased lung in a cowboy hat. (Purely for marketing purposes, of course. “Last Week Tonight” only wants to do Marlboro a favor.)

#JeffWeCan is already taking over Twitter; check out some of the enthusiastic tweets about the pockmarked, presumably cancerous lung that are circulating around the Internet.