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Up In Smoke


Sat, Jan 13th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, January 15, 2001

Lately, there have been many commercials by teenagers on a crusade against smoking. They sight that “Big Tobacco” companies have targeted underaged smokers by using cartoon mascots, supporting high school sporting events, and placing advertisements in places where teens frequent. They cite that’s why about one out of four highschool students smoke. Of course, as you have figured out I have an opinion on everything...so here’s my two cents on Tobacco.

You have to be a very weak soul to fall for tobacco companies antics. If you smoke a cigarette just because you open up a magazine and see a camel lighting up or a cowboy puffing on a cigarette; I want you to put down the paper, stand up, and yell “I’m a MORON!”.

If you just look at a pack of cigarettes it reads, “Surgeon General’s Warning: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.” That is about as forward as a warning can get without just coming out and saying cigarettes will kill you.

Yet, despite all of the warnings against smoking, 6000 adolescents smoke their first cigarette everyday. A few ways that they pick up the habit are that their parents smoke, peer pressure, and the image that smoking makes you look older and cool. Of course I never knew that cool meant lung and throat cancer along with other respiratory diseases before the age of 30.

It seems as if smoking and anti-smoking has worked itself into the spotlight of pop-culture. I was watching Sportscenter on ESPN one morning before school, and throughout the hour long program there were seven anti-cigarette ads from thetruth.com. The truth.com is an internet website where they post facts about “Big Tobacco” and form public events against smoking. The commercials ranged from teenagers reading direct quotes from tobacco company memos and newsletters; to people attaching body bags to horses ending the commercial with the words “What if cigarette ads told the Truth?” My question to the people who make those ads is, why? What are those ads going to do? Will watching those ads suddenly make the 4.5 million American teenagers who smoke quit? Absolutely not, if they still smoke even though they know the hazards, a few stupid commercials will not convince them.

I do not smoke. The reason I don’t smoke isn’t because of pointless commercials by thetruth.com, I don’t smoke because the label basically says cigarettes will kill you. I believe that smoking is the equivalent of holding a live grenade, they’ll both kill you eventually.

But some of their commercials make some sense, and by some I mean one. The commercial I am talking about is where a teen is reading a quote from the R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company. He reads, “When a group of R.J. Reynolds executives were asked why they don’t smoke they replied, ‘We reserve that right for the poor, the black, and the stupid’.” That has to be the most business savvy statement I’ve ever heard...if you DON’T want to sell your product! I mean if you think that quote can be heard by the public and you can still be successful, then you’re even more stupid than those thetruth.com advertisements.

I think this whole “Tobacco War” has gotten way out of hand. Long time smokers are suing tobacco companies for astronomical amounts of money. In some cases, they are blaming the tobacco companies for getting them addicted to cigarettes by using cartoon ads and sports stars for spokespeople. Basically what the smokers are stating is that they have a case of monkey-see-monkey-do. They see their role model with a cigarette in their mouth, it's only a matter of time before they begin to smoke.

Unless we can stop this trend of smoking, this year another 400,000 American lives will disappear up in smoke. Just like the ashes from the tip of a lit cigarette.

Andy Carlson

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