The Deception of the Tobacco Industry 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. Despite this reality, about 46 million adult men and women in the United States smoke cigarettes regularly. Through subliminal advertisements and propaganda, irrational desires are cleverly instilled in the minds of millions by callous cigarette companies; the targeted minds are mostly those of children.
These selfish companies are clearly unconcerned about the well-being of humanity, and are more concerned about their profits than their clients health. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that their products kill 420, 000 American smokers and 53, 000 non-smokers each year, the tobacco industry continues to sell its life-threatening products, unhindered by any significant government regulation (Glantz xvii). 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. Along with help from the government, the tobacco industry relies on the following in order to preserve its success: (1) the feigned controversy created by the industry on the effects of smoking, (2) the addictive properties of tobacco, and (3) marketing their product by associating it with misleading images. Responses to the Health Effects of Cigarettes Americans have been smoking tobacco since before Columbus set sail in 1492. The habit has been practiced in areas of civilization for 500 year (Kluge r xviii).
Tobacco is a part of American history; it was grown by George Washington and engraved on the pillars inside the Capitol building by Thomas Jefferson (Taylor 7). Cigarettes became better popularized during the First World War and were even more successful during the Second. Tobacco smoking had always been suspected to be an unhealthy habit, but it was not until the twentieth century that connections between smoking and disease became more evident. In 1930 in the United States, 3, 000 people died from lung cancer. By 1962, that number had increased to 41, 000, just as the number of cigarette smokers had increased between those years (Taylor 3). Over the first half of the century, the number of cancers in the smoking population went up in direct proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked per day (Hilts 3).
In 1962, the concern about smoking and health grew large enough for something official to be done. At President John F. Kennedy s request, the Surgeon General, Luther Terry, had assembled a collection of the most distinguished scientists and doctors who had no public opinion on the issue (Hilts 30). After two 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 (qtd.
in Glantz et al. 18). Furthermore, the report linked smoking to chronic bronchitis, coronary artery disease, cancer of the larynx, and cancer of the urinary bladder in men (Glantz et al. 18).
The public knowledge about nicotine at that time, however, was not as extensive as that on disease. The report stated that The tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction. It was not until 24 years later (1988) 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 (qtd. in Glantz et al. 15).
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 Wonder and Ev arts Graham and their colleagues at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York demonstrated that a large percent (by experimental standards) of mice developed cancerous tumors when their skins were painted with condensed tobacco smoke, or tar (Hilts 4). 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 2). 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 4). The industry s main concern in response to the medical evidence was to make sure that consumers carried on smoking (Taylor 11). The minutes of the meeting show that salesmen in the industry [were] frantically alarmed and that the decline in tobacco stocks on the market ha[d] caused grave concern...
(qtd. in Hilts 5). John Hill of the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton suggested that the industry initiate a public counter-attack against the scientists and that the companies make a public statement saying that they are sincerely concerned with the public welfare. They established a joint organization funded by all the companies to influence the issues of smoking and health: the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) (Hilts 5-6).
The objective of TIRC was to convince the public that there was a controversy as to whether smoking is dangerous (Glantz et al. 26). They were to spend large amounts of money to prevent scientists and public health officials from warning people of the hazards of cigarette smoking. TIRC did not begin with any doctors or scientists, but with 38 public relations experts along with associated advertising executives and other contractors - all hired by the tobacco companies (Hilts 6-8). Although there are many documents to prove this, the industry claimed that TIRC was an independant organization that would determine the truth about the health effects of smoking (Glantz et al. 26).
The industry needed to reassure smokers (Taylor 12). Refusing to accept the medical evidence linking cigarettes to lung cancer and addiction created doubt in the public mind and allowed smokers to choose sides on the issue. Even today, the tobacco industry s controversy causes the confusion in the public mind. Philip J.
Hilts, a Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote that the confusion intentionally produced by the industry can be measured in units of misperception. In the last analysis, for the public... When asked how many people smoke, we guess about twice as many as actually do. When asked to rate the top ten health priorities for the countries, we guess that quitting smoking should take tenth place, behind an array of real and imagined hazards, including the installation of smoke detectors, even though while fires in the home cause about 6, 000 deaths annually, smoking causes something over 400, 000. (19-20) One of the primary arguments of the tobacco industry against medical evidence proving that smoking causes cancer has been that the evidence is merely statistical.
This ignorant statement ignores the fact that the ground of all reason in science has always been based on statistics. Cigarette company executives have been trained by public relations experts and lawyers to say that the causation of lung cancer through cigarettes has not been proven in the sense that scientists cannot demonstrate the exact mechanism that smoke from a given cigarette on a given day produced the tumor in the smoker s lung. This form of proof, however, is not requisite in the scientific world, and it is hypocritical of tobacco companies to demand this level of proof. The companies themselves use statistics for the most important company decisions. For example, how and where to market brands and what amount of flavoring to put in certain brands. The whole industry uses statistics in all areas with their business; none of it meets their created standard of proof.
Thus the tobacco companies attack is on science itself, or rather, on the idea that we can use science to make decisions (Hilts 18-19). The industry s stated disagreement with the evidence also attributed to their argument against government regulation of their products, and helped prevent lawsuits against tobacco companies. In addition to their public disagreement, companies argue that smoking is a matter of individual choice, blaming their customers for the diseases they acquire through using addictive tobacco products. Finally, the industry s claims are made to appear sincere by their pronounced willingness to support health- related research (Glantz et al. 3). TIRC promised to publicize industry-funded work, even if it revealed that there were cancer-causing agents in cigarettes.
However, memos show that public relations executives and lawyers would screen the scientist s report before authorizing their release, even to the Surgeon General. When reports would turn up with conclusions that may have been damaging to the tobacco industry, TIRC would not make them public (Hilts 10-11). Much of the work funded by TIRC did not even have anything to do with tobacco and health. In a survey of those who received grants, 80 percent of the scientists said that none of their research had ever examined smoking s health effects.
Of the 20 percent whose work was in that area, over 90 percent agreed that smoking causes lung cancer and is addictive (Hilts 15). As the TIRC did all of this to stall for time, the companies themselves were doing their own research behind closed curtains - without each company knowing what the others were doing. Documents show not only that the experiments done were good work, but that they were advanced far beyond the work of the top university scientists of the time (Hilts 11). Within the company labs, researchers found not one, but 15 compounds which caused cancer and another 24 which encouraged cancer growth (21). Characteristically of the tobacco industry, this important information which could have saved millions of lives was suppressed from the Surgeon General and, more importantly, from the public. Through the independent research conducted in the company labs, many companies had developed a sophisticated understanding of nicotine and learned that it was addictive by the early 1960 s - a quarter of a century before the Surgeon General concluded just that.
An essay written in 1963 by scientists at Battelle (a European lab hired to work for British American Tobacco and sister companies) and distributed to the senior executives of British American Tobacco and Brown & Williamson read as follows: Chronic intake of nicotine tends to restore the normal physiological functioning of the endocrine system, so that ever-increasing dose levels of nicotine are necessary to maintain the desired action... This unconscious desire explains the addiction of the individual to nicotine. (qtd. in Glantz et al. 15) This essay was obviously not submitted to the Surgeon General, whose report published the next year presumed that The tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction (qtd.
in Glantz et al. 15). Despite all of the work by the company labs that proved how nicotine is addictive, tobacco executives have publicly denied that nicotine is addictive even to this day. What the companies hoped to achieve in their labs was to identify the cancer-causing agents in tobacco and then remove them and, as a result, develop a safe cigarette.
This task proved to be much more challenging than the company scientists had imagined. They later discovered that the substances themselves were not what made cigarettes dangerous, but it was when they were burned; they were transformed into toxic products just before entering the lungs. They also found that there were 43 carcinogenic substances to be removed in order for the cigarette to truly be safe. These compounds could not be removed since burning them was the basis of smoking; it released both flavor and nicotine, both essential to the cigarette (Hilts 25). The search for a safe cigarette not only provided complications for the company scientists, but posed a dilemma for the public relations executives and company lawyers as well. By asserting that cigarettes are not harmful, the tobacco industry had situated itself in a conspicuously difficult position.
If the company scientists actually did produce a safe cigarette, they could not respectably sell them. Companies would be proving themselves liars if they were to market a safe alternative to cigarettes which they had previously insisted were safe. By 1975, five companies actually had designed and tested safer cigarettes, but by then it was too late; they were not about to admit to their deception and open themselves to legal liability. Since they could not market these safer cigarettes, they put their designs in the closet and locked the door. Gradually, it became obvious that the scientists and their labs could no longer provide the companies with anything but harmful data.
(Since their information would not be used to design safer cigarettes, the only place it could ultimately be used would be against the industry in court. ) So the companies decided to abandon their research programs: R. J. Reynolds closed its facilities in December 1970; the British tobacco industry s laboratory was abruptly closed in 1974; and Philip Morris shut down its biology labs in 1984 (Hilts 39-40). Reliance On the Addictive Effects of Nicotine To the tobacco industry, nicotine is by far the most important of the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke (Glantz et al. 58).
It is what makes tobacco as addictive as heroin or cocaine. If cigarettes were manufactured without nicotine, the whole industry would have faded long ago. (This was proven once when Philip Morris tried marketing a nicotine-free cigarette called Next [Hilts 50]. ) 75 percent of adult smokers know that they are addicted; by some estimates, as many as 90 percent are addicted (Glantz et al. 59). Of the seventeen million Americans who try to quit each year, only eight percent actually succeed (Very Few Who Try to Quit 16).
Tobacco executives know how addictive nicotine is, and do their best to make smoking as convenient as possible to the smoker: a pack of cigarettes costs less that a half hour of work at federal minimum wage; no equipment (other than a match) is necessary; cigarettes are quickly available to anyone over 18; there is no fear of overdose; until recently, smoking has been acceptable in most public and private places; tobacco does not impair one s abilities as does alcohol or other substances; and the damage it brings to health is slow to arrive (Schelling 430-431). By the early 1960 s, many tobacco companies had a sophisticated understanding of nicotine pharmacology, and had recognized the central role nicotine plays in the smoking experience. In 1963, Addison Yemen, vice president and general counsel for Brown & Williamson, stated on a memo: Moreover, nicotine is addictive. We are then in the business of selling nicotine [rather than selling tobacco or cigarettes], an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms [emphasis added] (qtd. in Glantz et al.
15). William Dunn, Jr. Of Philip Morris wrote in 1971: Think of the cigarette pack as a storage container for a day s supply of nicotine: 1) It is unobtrusively portable. 2) Its contents are instantly accessible.
3) Dispensing is unobtrusive to most ongoing behavior. Think of a cigarette as a dispenser for a dose unit of nicotine: Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine: 4) A convenient 35 cc mouthful contains approximately the right amount of nicotine [emphasis added]... (qtd. in Hilts 50-51) These tobacco executives had realized that the whole purpose of the products they sold was to deliver nicotine to the consumer. The cigarette was now looked at as a vehicle for nicotine delivery; this put the companies into the pharmaceutical business.
Through the extensive studies conducted in the company labs, company scientists knew a great deal about nicotine - far more than anyone outside the company walls (Hilts 46). Already by 1974, companies began to treat cigarettes as nicotine delivery devices in the sense that they would manipulate the levels of nicotine in their tobacco. Their engineers made great use of their internal knowledge on nicotine when designing various methods of increasing the level of nicotine delivered to the smoker. This was done not only by boosting the level of nicotine in the tobacco, but also by adding substances to the cigarette (such as ammonia) which, when burnt, would free up the nicotine that was chemically bound up to other chemicals inside the leaf (53). In the early 1960 s, when the public began associating cigarettes to disease, tobacco companies started marketing low tar, low nicotine brands. The public logically assumed that these brands would be less hazardous to health, as did the Surgeon General suggest this in 1966 (Glantz et al.
16). This assumption, however, turned out to be incorrect. The tobacco industry has learned over the years, through detailed and comprehensive research, that smokers have different nicotine need levels (Hilts 52). There is a minimum amount of nicotine that a smoker must get into his system in order to fill the void caused by the addiction. As companies learned in the mid 1970 s, a smoker will adjust his smoking pattern - according to the nicotine level in the cigarette - in order to attain his desired level of nicotine. (This further demonstrated that cigarettes are devices used to deliver nicotine to the smoker.
) This behavior was termed Compensation[: ] the tendency of a person to smoke a cigarette having a lower machine-measured nicotine delivery more vigorously [or more often] than a higher delivery product... (Glantz et al. 87). 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 and TPM [total particular matter] to duplicate his normal cigarette nicotine intake [emphasis added] (qtd. in Glantz et al.
88). The Surgeon General did not conduct a study on compensation until 1980; the study was not confirmed until 1983 (87). 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 120-121).
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 et al.
59). 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 Sande fur, testified in 1994 that [he does] not believe that nicotine is addictive... nicotine is a very important constituent in the cigarette for taste (qtd in Glantz et al. 15). 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 49).
Furthermore, Philip Morris documents show that No one has ever become a cigarette smoker by smoking cigarettes without nicotine (qtd. in Hilts 50). 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 (qtd in Hilts 64). Spreading the False Image: Marketing the Product Through the Use of Media and Propaganda 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 44). For example, New ports 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 116).
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 (qtd. in White 117). 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 120). 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. An article in the Columbia Journalism Revue, analyzing coverage which leading national magazines had given to cigarettes and cancer in the 1970 s, concluded that it was: ... unable to find a single article in 7 years of publication that would have given readers any clear notion of the nature and extent of the medical and social havoc being wreaked by the cigarette-smoking habit...
one must conclude that advertising revenue can indeed silence the editors of American magazines. (qtd. in Taylor 45) Of all of the newspapers and magazines in America, those with the largest percent of teenage readers seem to be the tobacco industry s favorite places for advertising. Similarly, tobacco advertisement remains most popular among billboards located closest to colleges, high schools, and even junior highs.
This approach of advertising to young people has been kept a closely guarded secret since, besides being illegal, the companies are ashamed of it. If they had a choice, cigarette companies would simply keep their business between the adult population and not have to worry about enticing children into smoking - but that is not the case. There are two fundamental reasons why it is necessary for the tobacco industry to market their products towards young people (Hilts 63-64): Nicotine addiction, which is paramount to the industry, does not develop in adults. Among adults over age 21 who begin smoking for the first time, over 90 percent soon stop completely (65). Among young people ages 12 through 17, who smoke at least a pack a day, 84 percent reported that they were dependent on cigarettes. Virtually all tobacco use begins at childhood.
Half of the adult smoking population has started by age 14 (Glantz et al. 59); nearly 90 percent of those who will smoke as adults are already smoking daily by the time they reach age 19. It can take up to three years of smoking to establish a nicotine addiction; adults simply do not stick with it long enough (Hilts 65). The second reason why it is vital for companies to invite children to smoking, has to do with the state of mind of the adolescent. Children, by nature, are attracted to many things that the cigarette has to offer them: defiance of authority, a sense of individualism (which is an illusion, considering they are one among some 50 million), emulation of an admired image, social acceptance by peers, a perception of masculinity (for males) or sexiness (for females), and many other false notions that help settle various insecurities of the adolescent. Tobacco executives realize that if they introduce their products as being capable of relieving numerous social pressures that teenagers undergo, their products will be perceived this way (to an extent) by a large percentage of children; these children will let the industry affect their actions and, ultimately, their lives.
It is for these two reasons that the industry must focus their attention on persuading young people to start smoking. Cigarette companies view their advertising approach as an investment. Young people, who are only a small percentage of the market, slowly accumulate in numbers, year by year, and increase their habit as they grow older. Eventually, this small group of consumers develops into the majority of the tobacco market (Hilts 77). It is moreover advantageous for companies to target youths since young smokers have greater brand loyalty - a very high likelihood of staying with their first regular brand of cigarettes for years or even for life (76). Tobacco companies have learned exactly how to market their product to children through extensive research and psychological study of youths; the most intense studies did not start until after the scares of 1954.
In the late 1950 s, Philip Morris found through comprehensive research that young males started smoking because, to them, it represented an independence from their parents. What PM s advertising agency came up with were commercials that would turn rookie smokers on to Marlboro... the right image to capture the youth market s fancy... a perfect symbol of independence and individualistic rebellion (qtd. in Hilts 67).
With this in mind, they decided that images of a lone, rugged cowboy would catch the attention of male children. The Marlboro Man soon began to capture the largest percentage of starters and clearly put Philip Morris at the top of the tobacco industry; PM tried to duplicate the success of Marlboro by creating Virginia Slims for young girls in the late 1960 s (66-69). In 1976, Imperial Tobacco of Canada started a project which would psychologically examine young people and establish a substantial base of information on youths that could be used for advertising; it was code-named Project Sixteen for the age of those who were to be studied. Imperial knew that the only way to raise their sales (which were falling at the time) was to learn how to market their product to children: ... the industry is dominated by the companies who respond most effectively to the needs of younger smokers (qtd in Hilts 82). By paying teenagers to be interviewed (with hidden cameras), Imperial learned that children perceive smoking as vaguely masculine, independent, and forbidden.
They are sexually insecure and need to appear confident; they need to feel adult-like, not childish. The Company discovered that tobacco experimentation begins often around age five, but more often around age seven or eight; more serious efforts to learn to accept the poisonous smoke occur at age 12 or 13, while smoking becomes a more regular pattern between 14 and 16 years old (Hilts 79-83). In Project Sixteen s summary, it concluded: There is no doubt that peer group influence is the single most important factor in the decision by the adolescent to smoke... The adolescent seeks to display his new urge for independence with a symbol, and cigarettes are such a symbol since they are associated with adulthood and at the same time the adults seek to deny them to the young. (qtd. in Hilts 83) Similar studies were conducted by many other tobacco companies, such as the research co-directed by Claude Teague at R.
J. Reynolds in the spring of 1972. Teague suggested how the company should go about drawing in youths: we must somehow convince him with wholly irrational desires that he should try smoking... (qtd. in Hilts 73).
In 1973, Teague wrote: Realistically, if our company is to survive and prosper, over the long term we must get our share of the youth market... Thus we need new brands to be particularly attractive to the young smoker... its promotion should emphasize togetherness, belonging and group acceptance, while at the same time emphasizing individuality and doing one s own thing... Evidence is now available to indicate that the 14- to 18-year old group is an increasing segment of the smoking population. RJR must soon establish a successful new brand in this market if our position in the industry is to be maintained over the long term [emphasis added].
(qtd. in Hilts 74-75) R. J. Reynolds eventually did respond to the youth market in 1988 with Camel cigarettes.
RJR s market basically remained the same since 1913, before they modified their advertising approach 75 years later (Hilts 70). Camels, which had previously been pitched to smokers over 50 years old, were suddenly targeted towards those under 20 years old with the introduction of the cartoon Joe Camel in February, 1988 (79- 80). RJR established a program to sell their cigarettes to what is referred to in their documents as YAS, or young adult smokers. (They were referred to in the documents as young adults only for legal purposes; orally, it was agreed that the targeted groups were much younger. ) The program carefully governs, among other things, the placement of ads and propaganda. They ensure that stores within 1, 000 feet of schools carry more promotions than other stores; that promotions are closest to candy counters more often than anywhere else; that displays are more often set at a height of three feet or lower; and that stores in neighborhoods with a large number of children under 17 receive a greater number of signs promoting their cigarettes (92-93).
The effectiveness of the tobacco industry s psychologically designed promotions has been remarkable. Coinciding with the 1967 ad campaigns which targeted young girls, there was a sudden rise in teenage, female smokers: 110 percent in 12-year-olds, 55 percent in 13-year-olds, 70 percent 14-year-olds, 75 percent in 15-year-olds, 55 percent in 16-year-olds, and 35 percent in 17-year olds (Hilts 69). Within three years after Camels were introduced to children in 1988, the brand jumped from 3 percent to more than 13 percent of the cigarette market; the jump was even larger among the youngest groups (70). An R. J. Reynolds executive was asked exactly who the young people are that are being targeted, junior high school kids, or even younger His reply made RJR s objective clear: They got lips We Want em.
If this is truly who the tobacco industry is aiming for, their achievements are considerable. More than 100, 000 American children ages 12 and under are habitual smokers (Mixon 3). Every day, 3, 000 to 5, 000 American kids light a cigarette for the first time. Children spend a billion dollars a year on cigarettes. Tobacco companies must make sure that they recruit enough new smokers every day, taking into account that they loose one of their life-long customers to disease every 13 seconds (Starr and Taggart 706). Tobacco products have claimed the lives of more people than those who died in World War Two (Jaffa 85).
The sum of its victims exceeds the number of deaths resulting from alcohol abuse, illegal drug abuse, AIDS, traffic accidents, homicides, and suicides combined (Glantz xvii). There are thousands of documents from tobacco companies which reveal that the industry has been remarkably successful in protecting its ability to market an addictive product that not only kills its customers by the millions, but also shrinks the economy by 22 billion dollars annually (Starr and Taggart 706). The industry has uniquely been able to market its lethal products by tactfully instilling completely irrational desires in the vulnerable minds of children. Although tobacco products have been proven to be seriously hazardous to health, some 50 million Americans continue to smoke regularly; this is not necessarily a matter of personal choice as the companies claim. Rather, after seducing young people s minds (by explaining smoking as glamorous rather than deadly), the whole business trusts that these youths will continue to smoke because they will develop addictions to the nicotine in tobacco. Along with some help from the government, the industry fights regulation of their product through the skilled legal, political, and public relations tactics that helped them create an imaginary controversy on the effects of smoking.
This situation, however, is slowly changing. 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. (Among these documents, those of Brown & Williamson and have been greatly exposed. ) Every day, organizations such as the FDA (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.