Big Surprise: Tobacco Industry's Anti-Smoking Ads Don't Work
> 11/3/2006 3:35:30 PM

In a painfully obvious "revelation" that only further confirms the deadly negligence of the tobacco industry, a new study published inthe American Journal of Public Health reports that, rather thandiscouraging kids from smoking, the so-called "anti-smoking" adcampaigns produced by the legally liable Philip Morris company do notcurb smoking habits and may actually increase the likelihood of youngviewers lighting up that first cigarette.

The study, measuring the responses of 100,000 American teenagers to thetelevised ads in question, concluded that the ads only seem interestedin convincing teens that tobacco companies are not being deceptiveabout the damage caused by smoking. Teens who viewed the ads were morelikely to believe that the companies involved were being honest aboutthe threats their products pose and that they should not be forced outof business in the future. Seems like a great publicity campaign. Anofficial director of Philip Morris youth prevention campaigns evenadmitted during the famed tobacco trialsthat the purpose of these ads was only to delay the age at which kidsstart smoking to 18. The company also produces ads aimed at parents,and while they state that many parents warn their children abut tobaccoafter watching the ads, these conversations (naturally) increase thelikelihood that their kids will start smoking.

This frightening conclusion is hardly new. In a 2002 press release, The American Legacy Foundation,which was founded with some of the money given up by the tobaccoindustry after that successful series of lawsuits in the 90's andbecame best known for their Truth anti-smoking campaign, referred to a previous AJPH study while demanding that Philip Morris withdraw their ads and stop trying to undermine and remove the proven Truth TV spots.

Anyone doubting that the tobacco industry insidiously targets teens as potential life-long customers need only read this 1977 statement from a marketing agent at Imperial Tobacco:

"Of course, one of the very thingsthat are attractive is the mere fact that cigarettes are fobiddenfruit...When the adolescent is looking for something that at the sametime makes them feel different and also makes them feel that they areold enough to ignore this weight of authority so as to feel that theyhave made their own choice, what better could be found than acigarette? It is not just a smoke. It is a statement, a naughtyadventure, a milestone episode."

M.Cass Wheeler, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, words the only appropriate response very bluntly:

"The tobacco industry is addicted to lying and in truth wants our kidsto become addicted to tobacco. If they were serious about reducingsmoking rates, they would stop spending $15 billion a year to promotetheir deadly products."

Don't count on it.

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