The Deception Of The Tobacco Industry


The Deception Of The Tobacco Industry Essay, Research Paper

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 years (Kluger 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 Wynder and

Evarts 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 1960s, 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 Yeamen, 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 1960s, 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 1970s, 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.


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 Sandefur, 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,

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 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 1970s, 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 1950s, 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 Marlboros by creating Virginia

Slims for young girls in the late 1960s (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 & Willamson 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.

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