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Tobacco Paper Essay, Research Paper

Every day thousands of people start smoking. Knowing that ciggarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, people continue to start smoking. Everyday 3,000 children start smoking, most them between the ages of 10 and 18. These kids account for 90 percent of all new smokers. In fact, 90 percent of all adult smokers said that they first lit up as teenagers (Roberts). This isn t because of peer pressure, or just plain desire to start, it is due to the fact that young people are the prime target in the tobacco wars. The cigarette manufacturers may deny it, but advertising and promotion play a vital part in making these facts a reality (Roberts). It is for this reason that tobacco companies should be held accountable for the addictions that they cause.

Perdominantely, children are the prime targets of ciggarette advertising media. The kings of these media ploys are Marlboro and Camel. Marlboro uses a fictional western character called The Marlboro Man, while Camel uses Joe Camel, a high-rolling, swinging cartoon character. Joe Camel, the “smooth character” from R.J. Reynolds, who is shown as a dromedary with complete style has been attacked by many Tobacco-Free Kids organizations as a major influence on the children of America. Dr. Lonnie Bristow, American Medical Association spokesman, remarks that “to kids, cute cartoon characters mean that the product is harmless, but cigarettes are not harmless. They have to know the kings of these media ploys are Marlboro and Camel. Marlboro uses a that their ads are influencing the youth under 18 to begin smoking”(Breo). The industry denies that these symbols target people under 21 and claim that their advertising goal is simply to promote brand switching and loyalty. Many people disagree with this statement such as Illinois Rep. Richard Durbin who states ” If we can reduce the number of young smokers, the tobacco companies will be in trouble and they know it”(Roberts). U.S. News recently featured a discussion of the smoking issue with 20 teenagers from suburban Baltimore. The group consisted of ten boys and ten girls between the ages of 15 and 17. When asked why they started smoking, they gave two contradictory reasons: They wanted to be a part of a peer group. They also wanted to reach out and rebel at the same time. ” When you party, 75 to 90 percent of the kids are smoking. It makes you feel like you belong,” says Devon Harris, a senior at Woodlawn High. Teens also think of smoking as a sign of independence. The more authority figures tell them not to smoke, the more likely they are to pick up the habit (Roberts).

Nicotine is one of the ingreedients in ciggarettes and is considered highly addictive. The individual act of cigarette smoking offers no benefits to a person in any way. Its effects on health have been proven to cause any one of a variety of fatal diseases including lung cancer and heart diseases. Tobacco companies know this and continue to sell their products to the public. These selfish companies are clearly unconcerned about the well-being of humanity, and are more concerned about their profits than their clients health. This is achieved, by the industry, through strategically planned legal, political, and public relations tactics, which are contrived in order to mislead the public and take the responsibility for causing death and disease away from the companies (Glantz). The effects of tobacco on the body are seemingly endless. After years of research and experimentation, the Surgeon General released his report on smoking and health. It concluded: Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking far outweighs all other factors (Glantz). Furthermore, the report linked smoking to chronic bronchitis, coronary artery disease, cancer of the larynx, and cancer of the urinary bladder in men (Glantz). The first time the health dangers of smoking were formally brought to the American public s attention was in December, 1953. Experiments done by Drs. Ernst Wynder and Evarts Graham and their colleagues at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York demonstrated that a large percent of mice developed cancerous tumors when their skins were painted with condensed tobacco smoke, or tar (Hilts). This was considered by many as adequate verification that smoke would do the same to human lungs since they, too, are made of skin. The response in the U.S. was immediate: in less than two years, consumption dropped to 384 billion cigarettes per year – down from 416 billion in 1952 (Hilts). However, these mouse skin-painting experiments had their most tremendous effect on the tobacco companies themselves. On December 15, 1953, for the first time in history, the head executives of the leading tobacco companies in the industry met in order to devise an emergency plan. The leaders of the market were the same then as they are today: Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown and Williamson, American Tobacco, U.S. Tobacco, and Benson and Hedges (Hilts). The industry s main concern in response to the medical evidence was to make sure that consumers carried on smoking (Taylor).

By 1975, Brown & Williamson already had knowledge of the erroneous reputation of low-tar cigarettes for over a year: Compensation study conducted by Imperial Tobacco Co. shows that a smoker adjusts his smoking habits when smoking cigarettes with low nicotine to duplicate his normal cigarette nicotine intake. (Glantz). The Surgeon General did not conduct a study on compensation until 1980; the study was not confirmed until 1983. Despite their knowledge of compensation, the tobacco industry advertised its tow tar, low nicotine brands as less hazardous than the higher-yield brands, and succeeded in deceiving the public once again. Even today, over 60 percent of the market is lead by these low-yield brands – up from two percent in 1967. A survey in 1993 found that 48.6 percent of adults think that smoking low-tar is safer while, in actuality, it has found to be more hazardous to health (Segal). It was not until1988 that the Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, concluded that Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting, that Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes the addiction, and that The pharmacologic and behavioral processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine (Glantz). Although the industry has detailed knowledge of the effects of nicotine and it has recognized, internally, that it is in the business of selling nicotine, the industry publicly insists that nicotine is not addictive and is in tobacco merely for taste purposes; there are several reasons for this position. One of the arguments by the tobacco industry in product liability lawsuits is that tobacco companies should not be held responsible for the diseases associated with smoking since smoking is a matter of personal choice. If the industry admitted that nicotine is addictive, it would not be able to claim that people can choose to stop smoking anytime they want. In addition, admitting that nicotine is addictive would undoubtedly qualify nicotine as a drug and therefore subject to FDA regulation. This would ultimately lead to government policies regarding tobacco advertisement and promotion (Glantz). So, instead of tobacco companies admitting – what they knew before anybody else and know better than anybody else – that nicotine is addictive, they assert that nicotine s sole purpose in tobacco is for taste. Brown &Williamson s chairman and CEO, Thomas Sandefur, testified in 1994 that [he does] not believe that nicotine is addictive. . . nicotine is a very important constituent in the cigarette for taste (Glantz). However, despite many similar testimonies by tobacco executives, there is no evidence in any of the companies documents that nicotine was ever handled by the taste departments of the companies (Hilts). Furthermore, Philip Morris documents show that No one has ever become a cigarette smoker by smoking cigarettes without nicotine (Hilts). Ross Johnson, while the chief executor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, did his duty and denied the addictive nature of smoking. After he left the industry, however, he was plain about it: Of course it s addictive. That s why you smoke the stuff (Hilts).

Next to addiction, the tobacco industry depends on advertising as its most powerful tool in maintaining its success. Addiction is what keeps people smoking day after day; advertising cigarettes with delusive images is what causes millions to be tempted enough to begin the lethal habit. Cigarettes are the most heavily advertised product in America. The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year to ensure that its products are associated with elegance, prosperity and finesse, rather than lung cancer, bronchitis and heart disease (Taylor). For example, Newports are advertised with the theme Alive with pleasure, instead of with the opposite statement which would indicate the true result of using the product – Dead with pain (White). Since there is little to distinguish one brand of cigarettes from the next, cigarettes must be advertised through emotional appeals instead of product benefits. Marsha Bell Grace of the advertising firm of Wells, Rich, Greene said that cigarette advertising is advertising in its purest sense – no product difference, but a perception of difference in the product (White). Thus, the cigarette s appeal to the consumer is entirely a matter of perception, or rather, misperception. Since Congress banned cigarette advertising from television in 1970, the billions of dollars worth of advertisements from the tobacco industry are used in the print media instead of through the airwaves (White). There are a few American publications – such as the Readers Digest, Good Housekeeping, the New Yorker, and Washington Monthly – that do not accept cigarette advertising as a matter of principle. But for the majority of American publications, the millions of dollars they receive each year from tobacco advertisements is not only enough to keep the advertisements running throughout the year, but enough to control the material they publish. On many occasions, newspaper and magazine editors have pulled out articles on smoking and health that they would have otherwise published if the articles did not have the ability to interfere with their relations with the cigarette companies.

The deception of the tobacco industry has recently become better publicized through the revelation of internal documents which previously have been suppressed by the companies. Every day, organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration are taking steps to control the virtually unregulated sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Until something effective is done, however, the best way to fight the merchants of death is to influence their prey – the impressionable minds of children – before they do. Recently, television has been used to influence the minds of children through campaigns such as Truth, and also, mandatory anti-smoking commercials from the tobacco companies themselves.


Roberts, Steven. ” Teens on tobacco; kids smoke for reasons all their own.” U.S. News & World Report. 18 Apr. 1996: 38.

Breo, Dennis L. “Kicking Butts-AMA, Joe Camel and the ‘Black Flag’ war on tobacco.” JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. 29 Oct. 1993: 1978.

Glantz, Michael. Tobacco Today. New York: Knopf, 1998

Hilts, Joseph. Tobacco Kills. Britannica Online. 1999

Taylor, Stephen. The overall effects of nicotine on the human body Newsweek 16 Dec. 1994: 116+

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