December 6, 1990

The Smoking Lamp is Lit

Every coffin nail smoked in California will help to end smoking in the state --the tooth fairy permitting.

In an article in CTA Action the newspaper of the California Teacher's Association), Jan F. Anderson writes that "Every person who buys a pack of cigarettes in California is helping the state achieve its goal of a 75 percent reduction in tobacco consumption by 1999. It adds up to a $220 million state project to convince people not to smoke, chew or use snuff."

Think about that. Buying cigarettes will help to stop smoking. Smoking helps to stop smoking???

Twenty nine million dollars will be spent for an advertising campaign. Will it be an effective campaign? Will it convince young people that their heroes think that smoking is for jerks? Will it portray smokers as slaves to a filthy habit? Will it convince people that smoking is definitely not the glamorous or sexy thing to do? Will it come up with such goodies as Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray? --Of course not! That kind of advertising might stop some people from smoking which would reduce the amount of money that the advertising people make. An ad agency that does an effective job will cut its own throat. It will not only cut smoking, which will cut the amount of anti-smoking money brought in, but it will never be able to advertise tobacco again. The tobacco companies would boycott them. One tobacco account can support an entire ad agency.

I don't for one moment believe that the advertising people will cut their own throat. I'll bet that what they will do is take money from both sides; promote smoking while making sure that their anti-smoking campaign does as little as possible. These people are professionals and they are as capable of delivering lousy advertising as delivering the effective kind. At best, the anti-smoking accounts will go to the incompetent agencies.

What those same people who also promote tobacco are doing is mounting a campaign to convince people that the tobacco executives are villains. You've probably already seen some of those commercials on TV.

Is that going to stop anyone from smoking? Of course not! Why should it?

The current advertising program will accomplish nothing because everyone already knows that the Tobacco Mafia contains some of the sleaziest people in the world. Did Marlon Brando's portrayal of The Godfather hurt the Cosa Nostra? Not a bit; it just made them seem human --which they are. The Tobacco Mafia is also very human --that's the problem! They are human, greedy and totally ruthless.

What I was afraid might happen when Proposition 99 passed last year is happening. The money is being spent for an advertising program designed to spend money on advertising. That's the only thing that it seems to be doing; spending money on advertising.

Tobacco brings such a large amount of money into the federal treasury that the government has a stake in a healthy tobacco industry and tobacco sales. As a result, we hear anti-smoking rhetoric from the Surgeon General at the same time that other government agencies are actively promoting smoking in the rest of the world. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are major international drug pushers. Yes, tobacco is a drug and it is one of the most addicting drugs known. Now our State of California also has a stake in perpetuating smoking.

A ban on tobacco advertising on television was probably a major factor in the reduction of smoking among males in this country. Tobacco advertising is a major factor in the increase in smoking among females --yes, you've come a long way baby!.

How effective are the schools in encouraging young people not to smoke? Very effective if the teachers, coaches and athletes don't smoke. If they smoke, everything that they say is just so much hot air. My father and my family physician told me, between puffs, that smoking was bad for me. My high school teachers smoked. I was hooked by age 18. At age 35 I read the cancer statistics. They scared the hell out of me and I quit, with great difficulty.

A total ban on tobacco advertising in the nation might keep some people from starting. But if we banned tobacco advertising, fewer people would smoke. If fewer people smoked, less money would come into the federal and state treasury and less money would go to (please excuse the expression) education.

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