The tobacco industry no longer markets to kids or undermines public health efforts, is perhaps the most dangerous myth about tobacco. Despite the tobacco industry’s pledge to curtail many of its activities cigarettes advertising and marketing continues to reach children and tobacco companies continue to fight public health efforts. For decades, the tobacco industry has employed lawyers, public relations experts, and scientists to divert attention from global public health issues, distort scientific studies, interfere with politics, and reduce budgets for scientific and policy activities. More recently, tobacco companies have filed lawsuits to stop public health advertising campaigns that they claim are “anti-industry.”
Tobacco industry market leaders have recently been pressured to adopt corporate social-responsibility programs to account for and redress the tobacco industry’s adverse impact on society. However, the tobacco business with its fiduciary responsibility to preserve and increase tobacco profits that is inherently socially irresponsible. Cigarette advertising continues to reach children. For example, magazine ads for each of the 3 most popular brands among youths reached more than 80% of young people.
Children aged 12 to 17 years is the most likely age of smoking initiation and are twice as likely as adults to be exposed to tobacco advertising, because teenagers are 3 times more sensitive to cigarette advertising than adults are. Depictions of smoking in movies also increases smoking among teens. Those who see movies that depict smoking are 3 times more likely to smoke than teens that do not see smoking in movies, and half of all smoking experimentation among teens has been attributed to this exposure. There is more smoking in movies now than at any time and use of a specific cigarette brand imparts greater appeal to the brand. Endorsement of cigarette brands the use of specific brands by stars in movies has increased. Stars who smoke onscreen strongly influence smoking behaviors among teens, and the greater the level of smoking depicted, the higher the likelihood that teens will become smokers. Depictions of smoking in music videos, on television, and in other media also influence the smoking behaviors of teens.
Tobacco industry promotion of smoking even undermines the ability of parenting to prevent adolescents from starting to smoke which contradicts the tobacco industry’s contention that parenting practices, and not their marketing activities, are critical determinants of smoking among youths. An expansion of tobacco industry in spite of several restrictions implies the abundant economy related to the tobacco industry.