Should tobacco advertising be restricted? This is a very controversial issue. There is the idea that young children that smoke started smoking because of advertisements, but there is also the idea that children start smoking for other reasons. Many big, well-known tobacco companies like RJ Reynolds are being sued for their advertisements. On Monday April 20th, 1998 the jury heard a testimony from Lynn Beasly, the marketing vice president of the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. The courts believed that the advertisement was directed towards children under the age of 18, due to a document from the RJ Reynolds Board of Directors showing that they set a goal to increase the company's market share among 14 to 24 year olds. Lynn Beasly claimed that she didn't know if an ad directed toward an 18-year-old would also attract children under the age of 18. She also stated that the "Joe Camel" campaign was not intended to target children. Tobacco companies say that youth smokers are not especially valuable to the companies. So all these lawsuits are useless. What makes no sense is that the government makes more money per pack of cigarettes than any other cigarette company, and they're the ones suing and bringing up these statistics and issues.
In this case in particular a cartoon character was used to sell cigarettes to adults. Many tobacco companies use objects that would attract children, like actors and actresses and scenes in their favorite movies. Tobacco advertisers also make tobacco use seem sexy, fun, glamorous, macho and most insidiously healthful. Directors of movies put tobacco scenes in movies with some of children's favorite actors like Will Smith, Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and even the famous cartoon character, Roger Rabbit. Some movies that these actors are in have had large youth box office takes, like; "A Time to Kill", "Independence Day", "Birdcage", "Mission Impossible" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" The actors in these movies are some children's role models.
There are a lot of surprising statistics that make the government and the people sue big tobacco advertisers. Like the fact that tobacco is the only legal product that causes death and disability when used as intended. Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 Americans every year, that's more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined. Several studies have found nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to those of heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Smokers have almost twice the risk of having coronary heart disease as nonsmokers. Smokers' risk of getting lung cancer is approximately 14 times than that of nonsmokers. It has taken many years for tobacco products deadly effects to be scientifically documented. Tobacco companies spend approximately $14 million a day on advertising. Students who own cigarette promotional items are more than four times more likely to begin smoking, compared to those who do not own these items. Eighty-six percent of people between 12 and 17-years old who smoke prefer the three most heavily advertised brands. Only about one-third of adult smokers choose these brands. Almost ninety percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18. A recent study showed that thirty-four percent of teens began smoking as a result of the tobacco company's promotional activities. Tobacco companies loose 3,000-5,000 customers each day, more than 1,000 die from using tobacco as intended, the rest die of other causes. The tobacco industry targets 1.63 million new smokers a year to compensate for those that quit or die. The average age of new smokers in the United States right now is 12. Since the 1980s, big tobacco companies have supported a number of efforts to reduce youth access to cigarettes at retail. Thirty percent of teens that smoke say that they were able to obtain cigarettes from retail stores. Thirty-two percent of kids who smoke say they borrow cigarettes from people....
Cited: American Lung Association. "Tobacco Product Advertising and Promotion." Sept. 2000
(17 Nov. 2000)
Youth Media Network
(17 Nov. 2000)
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