Tobacco Advertising


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Every year, the tobacco industry spends millions of dollars around the world in advertising, promoting and marketing their products. For instance, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s smokers, yet tobacco companies spent an estimated $5.6 billion on advertizing, expenditures and promotion in 1997. Disclosed industry documents show that companies have carefully studied the tastes, desires, and habits of their prospective consumers such as, children, women and other historically low smoking groups, and used the statistics to develop marketing campaigns and products aimed at these groups. This leads us into asking many intriguing questions, for instance “what do these companies do to market products that kill half of its regular consumers? What enticements do these companies use in order to addict regular consumers early, sometimes as early as ten years old? How do they package death as life and deadly addictions as a celebration to life?

Depiction of tobacco advertisement

In spite of industry denials, an overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies and research show that tobacco advertising leads to an increased consumption. Likewise, Tobacco advertising has a powerful influence in young people. It is argued that tobacco advertising leads to the onset of smoking in adolescents and teenagers and that exposure to cigarette promotional activities is predictive of smoking among adolescents (Chapman, 2010). Research also indicate that following the introduction of brand advertisements that is appealing to young people, the prevalence of  smoking as well as use of those brands altogether, increases. It is argued that in order to survive, tobacco companies will always want to replace those who die because of smoking or quit smoking by conducting timely and vigorous advertising. Furthermore, it is claimed that non-smoker’s susceptibility to smoke is increased with greater awareness of tobacco marketing and greater brand awareness. In order to attract new consumers, tobacco companies end up creating complex tobacco marketing net that enslave millions of new users worldwide, with devastating health consequences.

 The World Health Organization claims that tobacco, just like viral diseases is communicated through sponsorship and advertising. As one of the pioneers in research on tobacco advertisement and smoking-induced diseases posits, there is a strong correlation between the sale and advertisement of cigarette and the increased incidents of lung cancer. He believes that this increase is attributed to the increase in tobacco advertisement and tobacco smoking and that smoking is a factor due to the chronic irritation that smoke produces. Governments all over the world are doing their best to contain this problem by banning tobacco advertisement. It is imperative to understand that these efforts are for the good of these nations as it will help protect children and youth from tobacco promotion. Just as the director general of the World Health Organization argues, a ban on all tobacco promotion, sponsorship and advertizing is a powerful tool that governments can use to protect the future generation from a time-bomb that is ready to explode (Chapman, 2010). The director states the following as the main reasons as to why advertizing for tobacco products should be banned:

  • Tobacco products are responsible for over 550,000 deaths in Europe alone every year.
  • More than half of all tobacco smokers will eventually succumb to death as a result of their habit
  • Smoking is responsible for more deaths than homicides, car accidents, suicides, alcohol, and other illegal drugs
  • Cigarettes are the most dangerous consumer products that can kill when used, just as the producers intend and;
  • Tobacco is advertized to increase consumption as well as stimulate demand

Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first philosophers of the 19th century to contend that at its core, the earth is not a rational place. Inspired by Kant and Plato, both of whom saw the universe as being more amenable to reason, this philosopher developed the philosophies of Plato and Kant into an instinct-recognizing ascetic outlook. In the end, Schopenhauer emphasized that in the facet of the world filled with numerous strife people ought to minimize their natural desires to achieve a more tranquil state of mind (Wicks, 2007). Therefore, his ethical theory can be used to support tobacco advertisement, considering that the current generation wants to ban tobacco advertisement. For Schopenhauer, tragedies always culminate from the nature of the will, which continually urges one towards the achievement of a successive goal. Schopenhauer philosophy of the “will,” was founded on the fact that people were motivated by the “will to live” (Wicks, 2007). Taking this assertion into consideration, Schopenhauer would strongly support tobacco advertisement since the urge of smoking would always drive the individuals towards the satisfaction of their desires (smoking) even if tobacco advertisement was to be abolished. 

Schopenhauer contends that people can only come to terms with nature of the universe only if they come in terms with their own nature. Therefore, proponents of tobacco advertisement ban should leave the decision of weather to smoke or not to smoke for people to decide for themselves. Because he was a pessimist, Schopenhauer would have supported tobacco advertisement since tobacco smoking gives pleasure to its users. Schopenhauer held that life is short and that people should enjoy the pleasantries that come with life when they are still alive.     Finally, Schopenhauer would have argued that ones character would determine if he or she would smoke or not and that the banning of Tobacco advertisement would not change the situation.

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