Saturday, April 29, 2006

Effective tobacco advertising....

A rather curious idea is being put forward by Roger Pielke Jr., that

In the battle over smoking efforts to deny a link between smoking and health risks seems to have been completely a lost effort.
This is consistent with Pielke's effort to frame other issues has a huge role in getting a subject onto the "agenda" of decision making, but after that, its role is very much diminished and subsumed to other factors, such as cultural, social, and political. If this is correct, it would require some deeper understanding about the role of advocacy related to scientific issues and the efficacy of using science as a tool of advocacy.
and he continues
This begs the question -- why has anti-smoking advocacy been so successful over time? The throwaway answer that increasing scientific certainly is the key does not seem to jibe with this data.
The problem with this whole line of reasoning is that it is built upon a falsehood. The tobacco industry has used advertising, public relations campaigns, Potemkin science, litigation, and any other method it could find to maintain revenues. Deaths were collateral damage. This is no secret to anyone who reads the newspapers let alone science journals. The mortality data and the data on tobacco use and its relationship to advertising both pro and con is readily available to anyone who makes the smallest effort to search. The Potemkin science ** allowed all of the other efforts to go forward, providing a screen against the imperative necessity of eliminating tobacco that were being uncovered by medical research.

The Surgeon General has been reporting on tobacco use for over thirty years. You can find the reports here, and other information here. In the preface to the 2000 report, the Director of the Center for Disease Control, Jeffrey Koplan writes:
But if the evidence is clear that tobacco use is harmful and if the tools are available to reduce its use, why has the reduction in prevalence been less than would be expected? The answer is very complex. As described in Chapter 1 of this report, numerous forces influence a person’s decision to smoke, or if that person is a smoker, the forces that drive continued use. The most important force for smoking is the totality of industry activity, including advertising, promotion, organizational activity, support for ancillary issues, and political action, which maintains marketability and profitability of the product. Efforts to reduce tobacco use face a more than $5 billion annual budget that the tobacco industry dedicates to advertising and promotion aimed at sustaining or increasing tobacco use. Nonetheless, there is cause for optimism based on considerable public support for efforts to prevent children from becoming addicted to tobacco. If the recent pattern of increases in youth tobacco use can be reversed, we can make progress toward tobacco-free generations in the future.
What exactly have been the effects of advertising. In the introduction to the report, we read
Regulatory Efforts (Chapter 5)
Advertising and Promotion

Attempts to regulate advertising and promotion of tobacco products were initiated in the United States almost immediately after the appearance of the 1964 report to the Surgeon General on the health consequences of smoking. Underlying these attempts is the hypothesis that advertising and promotion recruit new smokers and retain current ones, thereby perpetuating a great risk to public health. The tobacco industry asserts that the purpose of marketing is to maintain brand loyalty. Considerable evidence has accumulated showing that advertising and promotion are perhaps the main motivators for adopting and maintaining tobacco use. Attempts to regulate tobacco marketing continue to take place in a markedly adversarial and litigious atmosphere. The initial regulatory action, promulgated in 1965, provided for a general health warning on cigarette packages but effectively preempted any further federal, state, or local requirements for health messages. In 1969, a successful court action invoked the Fairness Doctrine (not previously applied to advertising) to require broadcast media to air anti-tobacco advertising to counter the paid tobacco advertising then running on television and radio. Indirect evidence suggests that such counter-advertising had considerable impact on the public’s perception of smoking. Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry supported new legislation (adopted in 1971) prohibiting the advertising of tobacco products on broadcast media, because such legislation also removed the no-cost broadcasting of anti-tobacco advertising. A decade later, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff report asserted that the dominant themes of remaining (non-broadcast) cigarette advertising associated smoking with “youthful vigor, good health, good looks and personal, social and professional acceptance and success” (Myers et al. 1981, p. 2-13). A nonpublic version of the report detailed some of the alleged marketing strategy employed by the industry; the industry denied the allegation that the source material for the report represented industry policy. Nonetheless, some of these concerns led to the enactment of the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-474), which required a set of four rotating warnings on cigarette packages. The law did not, however, adopt other FTC recommendations that product packages should bear information about associated risks of addiction and miscarriage, as well as information on toxic components of cigarettes. In fact, many FTC-recommended requirements for packaging information that have been enacted in other industrialized nations have not been enacted in the United States.

The role of advertising is perhaps best epitomized by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s Camel brand campaign (initiated in 1988) using the cartoon character “Joe Camel.” Considerable research has demonstrated the appeal of this character to young people and the influence that the advertising campaign has had on minors’ understanding of tobacco use and on their decision to smoke. In 1997, the FTC brought a complaint asserting that by inducing minors to smoke, R.J. Reynolds’ advertising practices violated the Federal Trade Commission Act Public Law 96-252). The tobacco company subsequently agreed to cease using the Joe Camel campaign. Although the FTC’s act grants no private right of enforcement, a private lawsuit in California resulted in a settlement whereby the tobacco company agreed to cease its Joe Camel campaign; notably, the Supreme Court of California rejected R.J. Reynolds’ argument that the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 preempted the suit’s attempt to further regulate tobacco advertising.
Among other tactics, the tobacco companies targeted marketing at women. The summaryof the Surgeon General's 2000 report on Smoking and Women includes:
In the 1990s, the decline in smoking rates among adult women stalled and, at the same time, rates were rising steeply among teenage girls, blunting earlier progress. Smoking rates among women with less than a high school education are three times higher than for college graduates. Nearly all women who smoke started as teenagers - and 30 percent of high school senior girls are still current smokers....

...Tobacco industry marketing is a factor influencing susceptibility to and initiation of smoking among girls, in the United States and overseas. Myriad examples of tobacco ads and promotions targeted to women indicate that such marketing is dominated by themes of social desirability and independence. These themes are conveyed through ads featuring slim, attractive, athletic models, images very much at odds with the serious health consequences experienced by so many women who smoke.

....Women have been extensively targeted in tobacco marketing, and tobacco companies have produced brands specifically for women, both in the United States and overseas. Myriad examples of tobacco ads and promotions targeted to women indicated that such marketing is dominated by themes of both social desirability and independence, which are conveyed through ads featuring slim, attractive, athletic models. Between 1995 and 1998, expenditures for domestic cigarette advertising and promotion increased from $4.90 billion to $6.73 billion. Tobacco industry marketing, including product design, advertising, and promotional activities, is a factor influencing susceptibility to and initiation of smoking.
** Something that appears elaborate and impressive but in actual fact lacks substance: “the Potemkin village of this country's borrowed prosperity” (Lewis H. Lapham). After Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages constructed for Catherine the Great's tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea (from the American Heritage Dictionary)


Russell said...

Woe betides those smokers who demand that , in recognition of the aforementioned risks, government and industry actually spend money on research aimed at saving smokers lives by improving cures for related diseases instead of turning smokers into non-smokers.

Hazardous sports happen, yet no one suggests banning ski helmet research lest it encourage teenage skiing.

The present emphasis on social engineering to the exclusion of research on making smoking less hazardous is as perverse as limiting AIDS management to gay bashing, and where equally dubious epidemiological standards in play , that might apply to second hand AIDS as well

Russell said...

Eli, where's the 'replace "where" with " were" in the previous comment;'button ?

willard said...

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