Tobacco Companies Targeting Young People
Every day, 3,000 kids start smoking, most of them between the ages of 10 and 18. These kids add up to 90 percent of all new smokers (Roberts 38). These statistics show us that young people are the main targets of the tobacco companies. The cigarette manufacturers will deny it, but advertising and promotion play a very important part in making these statistics a reality.
The two main companies in this advertising war are Marlboro and Camel. Marlboro uses a western cowboy called the Marlboro Man, while Camel uses Joe Camel, a hip cartoon character. Everywhere you go there is billboards or some other kind of advertisement on these two shady characters. When I say shady, I imply that these characters are not just figures we see but they are traps just waiting to lure the next victim in. As kids look through magazines and see Joe Camel driving a cool car and surrounded by beautiful women they get the idea that in order to be somebody they need to smoke a Camel cigarette. It is not right to prey on young people just because they are unaware of the dangers of smoking.
The tobacco industry denies that these symbols target people less than 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 said "If we can reduce the number of young smokers, the tobacco companies will be in trouble and they know it"(Roberts 38).
The problem we are facing is not only with the tobacco companies but with the young people also. The reason why I say this is because most youths know that they are being targeted. If these kids realize that the advertising is manipulating them, why do they still smoke? The ads reflect an image of rebellion and fitting in. These are all the things a young person, between childhood and adolescence, needs and desires. This type of advertising, on top of peer pressure, is the mystery behind the rise in adolescent smoking.
How do we stop the future of America from smoking? Here are three things that the experts recommend. Try to convince your children that smoking is not cool. Talk to your kids at a young age about the dangers of smoking. Identify family members who smoke and ask them to stop (Thomas 450). These are things we all need to stress to our kids, without forcing them. When a parent tries to force a child to do any thing the child automatically, puts up his/her defense and rebels. This is a big reason why a lot of kids start. They're just trying to be independent and make decisions on their own.
Children are the most important thing we are given in life. Let's try to educate them while they're young to be independent thinkers and to not be manipulated by the tobacco companies. Maybe if my parents had used some of these techniques I would have never started.
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