Letter in the FT in response to Philip Morris’ claims
Monday 31 August 1998
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Action on Smoking
Re: cigarette marketing to young people
Philip Morris claims it does not want young people to smoke (Letters, 24 August).However, tobacco company documents released through litigation in the United States showthe companies recognise that young teenagers are the main source of new smokers andcrucial to success in the cigarette market. The approach to teenagers is not to bechildish, but to present smoking as an aspirational adult activity. This is whyself-imposed controls that prevent blatant advertising to children are ineffective – itjust does not work that way.
Even if there was no intention to direct tobacco promotion at this age group, as PhilipMorris claims, it does not mean teenagers would be unaffected by it. Philip Morrissponsors the Ferrari Formula One team and Michael Schumacher to promote its Marlborobrand. It is hard to see how associating the fastest cars and most heroic drivers withcigarettes would leave a typical 14 year-old motor racing fan untouched. All tobaccopromotion reaches young people and this is one reason why the European Union has acted toban it. Philip Morris has fought this measure every inch of the way but still feels ableto exhort parents, educators and retailers to play their part tackling youth smoking. Thecompany has yet to explain how its vast tobacco promotional expenditure helps the rest ofsociety deal with the epidemic of illness that originates in the recruitment andsubsequent addiction of teenagers to smoking.
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