This morning I came across an article about the UK banning cigarette branding and ironically I was just discussing cigarette advertising with a friend last night.
As we talked, I flipped through the September 8th, 1972 subscription of LIFE magazine (one of my prized possessions) and stopped at an ad for Vantage cigarettes. I read the ad and shaked my head in disgust.
The copy was downright evil. It played on fact that they knew cigarette smokers were addicted and that no one or nothing could stop them from smoking and that they’d might as well select their “rich” tasting “low” tar cigarettes. It was direct exploitation of individuals they helped get hooked on cigarettes.
This isn’t too far off from the Ads we see now. They still imply that most people smoke, there’s nothing anyone can do about it AND that people look and feel good while doing it.
Men can look handsome, rugged and daring like in these Marlboro ads and women can be happy, slim and sexy as implied by these Virginia Slim ads. We all know that there is nothing healthy about smoking cigarettes and that they can lead to serious health complications.
At the time of the 1972 Vantage Ad publication, the hazardous health effects of smoking had been known to the general public for about a decade. “In 1964, U.S. Surgeon General, Luther Terry, released his Advisory Committee Report on Smoking and Health. The staggeringly comprehensive report was based on more than 7,000 scientific studies linking smoking with lung cancer, emphysema and other diseases. The report led a surge in restrictive legislation, including mandatory warning labels on packages and a ban on advertising on radio or television.
Tobacco companies in return simply changed strategy, advertising to younger markets with candy cigarettes and mascots like Joe Camel — whom a 1991 study found was more recognizable among 5 and 6 year olds than Mickey Mouse. By labeling cigarettes as an “addictive drug” in 1996, the FDA sought to gain control over the industry and limit the sales and advertising of tobacco products. While its actions were supported by then President Bill Clinton, the Supreme Court ruled against the FDA in 2000, claiming the federal agency was never given the proper authority to regulate tobacco by Congress”.
In 2013, the battle against cigarette advertising still rages on. You won’t find any cigarette Ads on the radio or TV. Well, unless it’s a late night program (on selected cable channels) and they’re electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not covered by restrictions on using commercials to sell tobacco cigarettes, because they are not tobacco products. They might not be tobacco products but they contain nicotine which is the component that helped garner cigarettes “addictive drug” label in 1996.
How is this any different than previous strategies like cigarette shaped candies for children or friendly cartoon characters like Joe Camel? Is it not wolves in sheep clothing all over again? Cigarettes might be weeded out in a few years but what potential dangers exist in these vapor-based electronic cigarettes? We might be saying goodbye to the era of tobacco-based cigarettes and greeting the beginning of the same addiction in a new costume – electronic cigarettes.
Kudos to the UK for their efforts in the crack down on cigarette branding, I wonder when we’ll follow suit.
The Drum reported:
“The UK government has announced that it is to legislate for plain cigarette packaging later this year, a move which would mandate all manufacturers to strip graphics and colour from their packets.
Plans for the new look ciggies will be revealed in the Queen’s Speech in May and are expected to dovetail with a ban on smoking in cars in which any passenger is below the age of 16.
Research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health in March 2011found that ‘plain pack colours have negative connotations, weaken attachment to brands, project a less desirable smoker identity, and expose the reality of smoking’.
The study also elicited that non-smokers and younger respondents were more turned off by the drab packaging than older smokers.
In Australia, where similar measures have been implemented, cigarettes are sold in uniform olive green packets with graphic health warnings”.
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