Slick Marketing, Deadly Results

For more than a century, Big Tobacco used alluring themes of “beauty, fashion, freedom and sophistication” to market cigarettes to women and girls—at a terrible cost in lives, according to a report released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other groups. Takeaways: 

  • 16 million US women and girls currently smoke

  • 200,000 women die every year in the US from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure

  • Nearly 20% of high school girls use e-cigarettes


Exploiting “body image concerns and perceived insecurities of women and girls” led to increased sales.

  • A 1920s Lucky Strike ad campaign that positioned cigarettes as a “diet aid” led to a 300% increase sales.

 
Big Tobacco also has long had Black Americans in its marketing sights. Ads for Kool, Newport and other menthol cigarettes are mainstays in Black neighborhoods. The result: Nearly 85% of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, according to the Los Angeles Times.
 
Advocates say last month’s FDA announcement that it would ban menthol cigarettes and cigars was hailed by advocates as a historic, lifesaving step. But others, including the ACLU and Big Tobacco, said it was discriminatory.
 
Final Take: A March study in Preventive Medicine pegged health care costs related to smoking at $225 billion a year in the US alone.

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