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Cigarette Advertisements and Their Influence

It is estimated that every day around 2000 American kids light their first cigarette. Have you ever wondered why in spite of many anti-smoking campaigns launched by the government, by the environmental authorities and the social welfare people, the number of smokers keeps rising with each passing day? The reason is the influence we get from cigarette advertisements which we watch and see every where, in the house, while going through magazines and newspapers and even when we step out from home in those massive billboards.

Cigarettes were one of the first things to be widely advertised on television. With no worries on the monetary front, they soon became the sponsors of many television shows from the early 1950's to1970's. The cigarette brands like Camel, Chesterfield , Winstons, Marlboro, Benson and Hedges soon became the top advertisers and the sponsors of the top T.V. shows.

High profile movie stars were signed up to endorse the brand. Stars with macho bodies and style were chosen, to impart the message that smoking makes them manly and handsome. As for the women they tried to pass the message that smoking makes them sophisticated and helps to gain independence, sexual freedom, career, success, freedom and beauty. Even cartoon characters like the Flintstones, Joe Camel and the Addams family were not spared.

After the ban on cigarette advertisements from television, the focus of the cigarette companies shifted to Magazines, Newspapers and Billboards. In a single issue of Penthouse, cigarette advertisement appeared on at least 20 pages followed by Playboy with 14 pages and cosmopolitan with 12 pages. Rolling Stone closely followed with 11 pages.

The first three magazines are the top magazines which are read by both men as well as women while Rolling Stone is popular amongst the youth. The advertisements encourage all groups of people, men, women, black, white etc to smoke. With the featuring of animated characters as the brand ambassadors even teenagers and children are targeted to try out this poison.

Numerous research and studies are done to find the ill effects of smoking. Smoking is proved to be the cause of many deaths and has killed more people than in any war, in the last century. In spite of all these facts the cigarette companies highlight smoking to be a very exciting and fun loving activity, the advertisements involve healthy looking, handsome and beautiful people to enhance the effect and thereby mislead the general public.

If the reverse is done, for example, if a very thin unhealthy looking person with yellow tobacco stain tooth, coughing out blood is used to advertise cigarette, how many people will stop buying or at least think twice before buying. This is the reality that cigarette does to a man but as always the realities are hidden.

The warnings written on cigarette package are written so small and in a place where no one even bothers to look. They should actually be written in a way that people give a second glance to them. In the United States the warnings are written on the side of the package. One smoker says "I know it's there, but I don't look at it." While another says "You know, I don't pay a lot of attention to the warning labels here in the United States , because I don't even see it.”

In Canada , cigarette package had the graphic images of gum disease, lung cancer; people subjected to secondhand smoke and carry the information on tobacco that it can be harder to quit smoking than quitting heroin or cocaine. These images and warnings are hard to ignore. Mil Arcega, a Canadian, agrees. "I do recall every time I looked at these warning labels, I would have to stop and think, oh my God, because these warning labels are so scary."

This is reality and this is how the package should look. The World Health Organization sponsored a treaty that at least a third of the front and back of cigarette cover should have warning labels. 168 countries signed the treaty out of which 145 countries have already rectified the cigarette packages. United States is among those countries that has still not ratified.

Since, to see is to believe, it is crucial that these smoking advertisements be ban not only on television but also in the magazines, newspapers and billboards. Further, the warning label must be bold and should show graphics of real people suffering from disease caused by smoking. Then it will be up to the individual to decide whether to smoke or not to smoke.

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