Essay on Teen Smoking

This essay has a total of 752 words and 5 pages.

Teen Smoking

Tobacco Advertising and its dangerous effects on young people.

Tobacco Advertising Makes Young People Their Chief Target

Everyday 3,000 children start smoking, most them between the ages of 10 and 18.
These kids account for 90 percent of all new smokers. In fact, 90 percent of all
adult smokers said that they first lit up as teenagers (Roberts). These
statistics clearly show that young people are the prime target in the tobacco
wars. The cigarette manufacturers may deny it, but advertising and promotion
play a vital part in making these facts a reality (Roberts).

The kings of these media ploys are Marlboro and Camel. Marlboro uses a
fictional western character called The Marlboro Man, while Camel uses Joe Camel,
a high-rolling, swinging cartoon character. Joe Camel, the "smooth character"
from R.J. Reynolds, who is shown as a dromedary with complete style has been
attacked by many Tobacco-Free Kids organizations as a major influence on the
children of America. Dr. Lonnie Bristow, AMA (American Medical Association)
spokesman, remarks that "to kids, cute cartoon characters mean that the product
is harmless, but cigarettes are not harmless. They have to know that their ads
are influencing the youth under 18 to begin smoking"(Breo). Researchers at the
Medical College of Georgia report that almost as many 6-year olds recognize Joe
Camel as know Mickey Mouse (Breo). That is very shocking information for any
parent to hear.

The industry denies that these symbols target people under 21 and claim that
their advertising goal is simply to promote brand switching and loyalty. Many
people disagree with this statement such as Illinois Rep. Richard Durbin who
states " If we can reduce the number of young smokers, the tobacco companies
will be in trouble and they know it "(Roberts). So what do the tobacco companies
do to keep their industry alive and well? Seemingly, they go toward a market
that is not fully aware of the harm that cigarettes are capable of.

U.S. News recently featured a discussion of the smoking issue with 20 teenagers
from suburban Baltimore. The group consisted of ten boys and ten girls between
the ages of 15 and 17. When asked why they started smoking, they gave two
contradictory reasons: They wanted to be a part of a peer group. They also
wanted to reach out and rebel at the same time. " When you party, 75 to 90
percent of the kids are smoking. It makes you feel like you belong," says Devon
Harris, a senior at Woodlawn High. Teens also think of smoking as a sign of
independence. The more authority figures tell them not to smoke, the more likely
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