Tobacco ad men think smokers are stupid!

Monday 26 April 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release
26th April 1999
Action on Smoking
and Health

Tobacco admen think smokers are ‘stupid’

<ahref=”http:”” sindy=”” stories=”” a2504910.html”=””>An article by Marie Woolfheadlined: “Proof at last: tobacco admen think smokers are ‘stupid'” on the webat the Independent on Sunday (25th April) draws on a 1975 document by TedBates advertising agency which is the clearest statement yet of how the tobacco marketingindustry regards its customers. The document describes research done for BAT’s USsubsidiary, Brown and Williamson. The following are extracts are from the document….

Smokers have to face the fact that they are illogical, irrational and stupid. Peoplefind it hard to go throughout life with such negative presentation and evaluation of self.The saviours are the rationalization and repression that end up and result in a defensemechanism that … has its own ‘logic,’ its own rationale.

Start out from the basic assumption that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health –try to go around it in an elegant manner but don’t try to fight it — it’s a losing war.

In the young smoker’s mind, a cigarette falls into the same category with wine, beer,shaving, wearing a bra (or purposely not wearing one), declaration of independence andstriving for self-identity…. Thus, an attempt to reach young smokers, starters, shouldbe based, among others, on the following major parameters:

Present the cigarette as one of the few initiations into the adult world.

Present the cigarette as part of the illicit pleasure category of products and activities.

In your ads create a situation taken from the day-to-day life of the young smoker but inan elegant
manner have this situation touch on the basic symbols of the growing-up, maturity process.

To the best of your ability, (considering some legal constraints), relate the cigarette topot, wine, beer, sex, etc.

Brown and Williamson’s response to this is thatthe material was generated by one of its advertising agencies and that Brown andWilliamson does not necessarily agree with the conclusions.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, commented:<fontface=”arial” size=”3″> “This is a peep into the way the tobaccomarketing really works, and its shows them at their arrogant, predatory and manipulativeworst. They reckon they can hook teenagers by playing on excitement about growing up andthey assume teenagers are gullible enough to fall for this. I don’t think many oftheir customers will be too impressed to find that they are regarded as stupid by thepeople selling to them.”



Contact Clive Bates, ASH Director (020) 7739 5902

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