Smoking Ads in Fashion Mags Draw Ire, Scrutiny
> 6/1/2007 11:19:17 AM

An advertisement for Camel No. 9 cigarettes, which appeared in a recent issue of Vogue Magazine, has landed the famed fashion magazine in hot water with anti-tobacco activists, who have led a grass roots campaign to let the magazine know that they are unhappy. Although R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camels, claim they only seek to sway adult smokers, anti-tobacco groups accuse the company of strategically gearing smoking ads towards young women and teens. The AP has reported that in the wake of the recent offending ad, activists had bombarded the magazine with over 8,000 emails and faxes.

Speaking to the AP
, Ellen Vargyas, counsel for the American Legacy Foundation said,

“Research out there shows that young people are susceptible to advertising. I wish the publications themselves would look hard at what they’re doing. Readers look to them to see what’s cool, and what’s trendy — and they see cigarettes.”

Seven years ago, The Phillip Morris Company voluntarily pulled advertisements from all sports magazines and other publications where youth readership exceeded 15 percent—a positive step, for sure. Yet it is advertisements like the one that appears in Vogue, as well as in other fashion magazines across the board, that illustrate that there are still deceptive and negative messages about smoking that reach teens.

New movements and measures have been successful in cutting teen smoking in recent years. A case study of the Truth Campaign, which has seen much iteration over its lifespan, demonstrated the impressive results that anti-smoking advocates have produced. Teenage smoking has declined nearly 40% to the lowest it has been in 28 years, and of those teens surveyed, over 75% agreed that the Truth ads were more effective than other ads they had seen about smoking and cigarettes. This is a strong indication of both progress and the potential for further success.

Coupled with recent action by the MPAA to cut smoking in films, we can only hope that positive momentum increases. Teen smoking, while at its lowest point in decades, has shown signs of leveling out. Even as progress has been made, there is still work to be done. Reducing the sway of advertising that glorifies cigarettes will reduce the number of smokers and will serve to improve health outcomes and reduce the overall costs of health care. Vigilance by grass roots organizations, like those at work here, keep pressure on those who sell ads to think twice about what they run and stop sending mixed messages to those who read Vogue and other similar publications.

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