Tobacco advertising and the Smokeout

Vaping is not safe for those who do not currently use tobacco products

more doctors smoke camelsI’ve regularly mentioned the Great American Smokeout because I’m old enough to remember when tobacco consumption was lauded.

Recently, I came across a 1933 tobacco ad. It noted that “21 of 23 Giants” …Smoke Camels. The Giants referred to the New York baseball team. Check out the Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising, from which I purloined the above ad.

“The Great American Smokeout is an annual social engineering event on the third Thursday of November by the American Cancer Society… The event challenges people to stop smoking cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping their decision not to smoke will last forever. The first Great American Smokeout was held in San Francisco’s Union Square on November 16, 1977.”

How does one get people to stop smoking? Can you scare kids into not smoking? “That’s the premise behind a variety of programs that have placed graphic warnings on billboards, in magazine advertisements, and on packs themselves.

“Unfortunately, there is evidence such campaigns can be counterproductive. And new research examining the effects of a specific approach on a particularly vulnerable population suggests it might do more harm than good.”


I find the stories collected by the Centers for Disease Control compelling. In particular, I was moved by the ad about Leonard Nimoy starting to smoke cigarettes as a teenager “because he thought they were ‘cool.’ The American actor best known for his iconic role as Spock on the popular television and film series, Star Trek, smoked for 37 years” before dying of complications of COPD. But, of course, I’m not the audience.

The introduction of e-cigarettes, a/k/a vaping, was presumably designed to get adult smokers to quit the habit. Even the CDC suggests “e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.”

One in five high school students in the U.S. reported using an e-cigarette in 2018. “Nicotine addiction can affect brain development in young adults.” And of course, there are several stories “about the recent lung diseases that have been reported. E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”

Now, the Federal Trade Commission is studying E-cigarette manufacturers’ sales, advertising, and promotional methods. The FTC “has issued orders to six e-cigarette manufacturers seeking information to study the companies’ sales, advertising, and promotional methods” for the calendar years 2015 through 2018.”

My layman’s observation is that tobacco advertising of vaping delivery systems was targeted teenagers as surely as the infamous Joe Camel ads did to young smokers a couple decades earlier. I’ll follow this story with great interest.

BTW, the notion that cream of tartar and orange juice will help you quit smoking is Pants on Fire false.

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