People smoking their first cigarette usually experience nausea, dizziness and faintness; the classic symptoms of moderate nicotine poisoning. Why then do people continue to smoke? The World Health Organization says that the reasons are closely linked with tobacco promotion, based on careful analysis of social situations. It offers the fulfilment of three dominant aspirations, gender status setting, social status, and false vision of no insecurities.
THE NATURE OF ADVERTISING
In view of the undisputed health hazards and cosmetic disadvantages (smelly hair & clothes, bad breath), tobacco advertising needs to be very powerful to make us brush aside personal sensitivities and sound judgement.
How do they do it? Cigarette advertisers employ the latest psychological techniques of mass persuasion to influence thinking and behaviour. The advertiser does not promote the benefits or merits of smoking, but rather the associated glittering images, fantasies, and our needs for affection, companionship, security, self-esteem or social recognition. For the impressionable and the unwary it often works! Cigarette manufacturers, by constant advertising, would have us believe that smoking is a normal activity of most people. In fact, cigarette smokers are in the minority.
YOUTH GUARANTEES TOBACCO INDUSTRY'S FUTURE
One purpose of advertising is to capture new customers. In the case of the tobacco industry, future profit is assured only if young people are lured into starting the habit. Evidence suggests that a person not smoking by the age of 20 years is unlikely to start, while an adolescent who smokes a second cigarette has a 70% probability of smoking for the next 40 years.
Sports Sponsorship: Though cigarette smoking lowers sporting performance, and is discouraged by coaches, many sporting clubs seem happy to accept tobacco companies as benefactors. This benefactor status creates a favourable impression among a captive audience - today's youth. Cigarette companies know that a persuasive message is more effective when the target audience is not aware of the true purpose. Sports sponsorship is just another 'soft sell' to make the company - and therefore its product - acceptable.
SMOKING SATISFACTION WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The 'full satisfaction', 'pure smoking enjoyment' and other promised delights really only lift a smoker temporarily out of the depression caused by tobacco withdrawal. The truth is that cigarettes only raise the smoker to a level that will allow normal functioning. Non-smokers are at this level all the time!
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SPEAKS OUT.
The World Health Organization (WHO), credited with the worldwide eradication of smallpox, is now concerned with tobacco smoking. The World Health Organization feels that within 20 years, smoking should be reduced to a private activity by addicted persons and states that in its opinion the tobacco industry's irresponsible behaviour and its massive advertising and promotional campaigns are direct causes of a substantial number of unnecessary deaths. The World Health Organization recommends to all governments that there should be a total prohibition of all forms of tobacco promotion.
CIGARETTE LABELLING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION.
Were tobacco introduced today as a new product, it would not meet the health standards now expected to protect the consumer. Compare the extensive warnings on substances such as aspirin with the vague warning on cigarette packets. Cigarette labels should at least warn of the dangers of long term use, the possibility of addiction, and against continued use by people who have heart or chest complaints, or circulatory problems. Have health departments and consumer organizations been too soft in this matter?