Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Draw of the Cigarette: Life Goes Up in Smoke

Smoking kills.  But if you package it right, millions will take their chances.

According to the Federal Trade Commission Report of 2006, the annual marketing expenditures by U.S. tobacco companies was approximately  1.25 billion dollars--in 1970.  In 2006, it was 16.7 billion .    In 2008, they spent nearly $29 million each day and 52% more than they spent at the time of the 1998 settlement of state lawsuits against the industry, which was supposed to curtail tobacco marketing.

Yeh, I know.  An individual has a choice; the tobacco industry does not and can not force anyone to inhale.  But they do a masterful job of alluring, enticing, and convincing someone to take that initial drag.  And, in time, the addictive substance begins to alter one's sense of choice.

Smoking is marketed to the child/adolescent and adult market as being cool.  The "in" crowd.  Virginia Slims and others entice girls/women who are assaulted with body-image difficulties.  Men are portrayed as manly and rugged if smoking. Or cool ( my James Dean poster would not epitomize the cool factor if he had no cigarette in hand.)

The tobacco companies spend billions to convince us.

I wish the marketing gurus had been with me last week at the visitation as I stood and wept with my friend, now a widow of three days, as she mourned the loss of her 51 y.o. husband who had smoked for a long time.  Married only 8 years she had found the love of her life only to lose him and with a mere month's notice as the cancer ravaged his body.  

There was nothing cool or manly or rugged about it.  

I would think marketing meisters avoid standing in visitation lines.