Youth Targeted through Popular Culture


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Campus Smoking Policies


By Marianne

It’s back to school, back to the grind and
back to Titles for more books than I want to carry. On my way
to the cashier, I pass by the magazine rack and notice that the
September 2003 issue of Esquire magazine is sporting Colin Farrell
on the front cover, cigarette in hand. Later at home, I see that
in this months issue of SPIN, one of the writers is holding a
cigarette in his picture in the editorial section. Finally, in
this September’s issue of Cosmopolitan, there are two full-page
cigarette ads for two separate brands, Winston and Salem. Both
brands are promoting their regular cigarettes, yet are also focusing
on their light or mild cigarettes.

Popular culture magazines with high youth
readership portray models and famous persons smoking in their
fashion layouts and editorial sections. At the same time, tobacco
companies use advertising in popular culture magazines with high
youth readership to shape and reflect social values about smoking.
This creates a negative combination of media messages about smoking.
What editors may consider as a harmless picture, youth see their
role models lighting up, and a few pages later, an ad for cigarettes,
implanting the harmful product in their minds.

This is the goal of many tobacco ads. Tobacco
companies use magazine advertising to ingrain the product in
the readers mind by means of an image or idea that is enticing
enough to make people want to use it. Tobacco advertisements
promote the experimentation of cigarette smoking to youths and
can also initiate regular use. These ads can reduce an existing
smoker’s urge to quit. Repeated exposure to cigarette ads can
expand an existing smoker’s level of daily consumption by acting
as a trigger to smoke. Finally, tobacco companies rely on repeated
exposure to cigarette ads to prompt former smokers to take up
smoking again.

Tobacco companies use advertising as a means
by which to encourage greater cigarette consumption. The prevalence
and familiarity of tobacco ads promote an atmosphere in which
tobacco is made out to be more culturally pleasing, more endorsed,
and less harmful than it actually is.

More recently, the tobacco industry has
even begun to go so far as to use the anxiety of the health risks
of tobacco to its advantage. In recent campaigns, the industry
has begun to promote light, mild, and low tar cigarettes, which
leads some clients to believe they are smoking a less harmful
or “safer” product. There is in fact no concrete proof
whatsoever that indicates that these types of cigarettes emit
less tar or other toxins when smoked. For more information on
light and mild versus regular cigarettes, check out Leave the
Pack Behind’s upcoming light and mild campaign.

For more information on smoking, or quitting
smoking, drop in to Leave the Pack Behind, funded by the Government
of Ontario and Health Canada, located in the basement of the
Student Centre in the Health and Wellness Centre. College and
University students represent the youngest legal target of the
tobacco industry. Don’t be a target. Quitting is tough, but the
benefits are real.

Youth Targeted through Popular Culture
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