The Real Target Market of Big Tobacco
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 (Clinton vs. Camel).
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, and 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, "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 loyalty.
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