Deadly Deception: 5 Ways Big Tobacco is Killing our Kids
For decades, Big Tobacco has been targeting kids in order to recruit new smokers. Why? To guarantee continued profits, of course. Since more than half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases, the tobacco industry counts on a steady stream of young newcomers to keep them profitable.
“If the tobacco companies really stopped marketing to children, they would be out of business in 30 years.”
— Bennett LeBow, President of Vector Holdings Group, a cigarette manufacturer
How do they accomplish this? Through a variety of deceptive tactics, Big Tobacco puts their products front and center, squarely aimed at innocent and impressionable children.
Here are the Top 5 ways Big Tobacco recruits young replacement smokers.
1. KEEPING CURRENT
With more and more restrictions being placed on advertising, Big Tobacco must seek out new ways of reaching our kids. Recently, they’ve adopted a variety of modern methods including social media, concert promotions, event sponsorships and more.
2. DEATH BY DESIGN
Big Tobacco designs their packaging to appeal to kids. They use bright colors, shiny packaging and fruity flavors. This is done to mislead and entice kids, preying upon their youthful curiosity.
“The [tobacco] package design should be geared to attract the youthful eye…”
— Creative Director of Robert Brian Associates (Ad agency/Advertising and Packaging Design for Lorillard Tobacco Company, makers of Newport, Kent, etc.)
3. SMOKE SCREEN
As part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, tobacco companies are prohibited from paying for product placements in movies, video games or television programs. And yet, tobacco remains highly visible in all three. The impact? 44% of adolescents who smoke started because they saw it in movies and video games.*
4. EYE LEVEL IS BUY LEVEL
Not only does Big Tobacco advertise heavily at retail outlets near schools and playgrounds, they also pay storeowners to place ads and products at the direct eye level of children.
5. DIRTY MONEY
In 2016, 185 lobbyists nationwide spent nearly $20 million to fight for the tobacco industry at the expense of our children. Oklahoma alone has 16 lobbyists working to ensure that Big Tobacco continues to get away with murder.
When kids turn 18, they’re not suddenly immune from Big Tobacco’s recruitment tactics. In fact, 18-24 year-olds remain a heavily targeted demographic for the tobacco industry. They spend billions of dollars a year marketing on college campuses and through nightclub and bar promotions. The result? Smoking rates among young adults continues to rise.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS
As a parent, it may feel like the cards are stacked against you. However, your attitudes and opinions have a much stronger influence on your child’s behavior than you may think. That’s why it’s important to make time to talk about the dangers of youth tobacco use as early as possible. for tips on how to get the conversation started.