#23 Smoke in your eyes

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cigarettes haven’t been allowed in television or radio advertising since the late 1970s. Why? Because of The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act and efforts from the FCC. They banned cigarette advertising in TV and radio to help discourage adolescents from starting to smoke. Advertising depicting cigarettes and smokeless tobacco is currently still allowed in magazines and billboards, however.

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I don’t understand the reasoning behind this ban. I don’t smoke, but a ban on cigarettes seems silly to me. I fully understand the media are powerful when it comes to convincing the public either way, and having only anti-smoking ads in television and the radio helps to deter would-be smokers. However, making an obvious point that smoking is so dangerous it can’t be shown on TV gives cigarettes a little bit more appeal because now they’re explicitly dangerous. This is also done on the packs themselves with the Surgeon General’s warning.

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Everyone knows that cigarettes are dangerous, yet 45.3 million Americans currently smoke according to the CDC. And more people are starting every day. It’s unlikely that they’re starting or continue because of an ad they saw, due to the bans on cigarette advertising. So if it’s not advertising’s fault, then what is it? Perhaps peer pressure is to blame, or maybe a family member offered them one.

Whatever the reason is, I would argue that it’s not because of advertisements. The ban on tobacco advertising on TV and radio is useless. People are going to continue to smoke regardless.

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