Thursday, September 27, 2007

More Than 5 Million Children Alive Today Will Die Prematurely From Smoking-Related Illnesses

Tobacco's Toll: 306,839 kids have become regular smokers in 2007.
98,174 will die prematurely from their addiction.

Almost 90 percent of all regular smokers begin smoking at or before age 18, and hardly anybody tries their first cigarette outside of childhood. In other words, if kids stopped smoking, the cigarette companies' market of smokers would shrink away to almost nothing. But thanks, in large part, to cigarette company marketing efforts, each day about 4,000 kids try smoking for the first time, and another 1,000 kids become regular daily smokers.

"From the 1950s to the present, different defendants, at different times and using different methods, have intentionally marketed to young people under the age of twenty-one in order to recruit ‘replacement smokers’ to ensure the economic future of the tobacco industry."
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler
Final Opinion, United States v. Philip Morris

The major cigarette companies, alone, now spend about $13.1 billion per year (or more than $35.9 million every day) to promote their products; and many of their marketing efforts directly reach kids. In fact, cigarette company spending to market their deadly products increased by more than 95 percent from 1998 to 2005 (the most recent year for which complete data is available). Moreover, tobacco industry documents, research on the effect of the cigarette companies’ marketing efforts on kids, and the opinions of advertising experts combine to reveal the intent and the success of the industry’s efforts to attract new smokers from the ranks of children.

Tobacco Industry Statements & Actions

Numerous internal tobacco industry documents, revealed in the various tobacco lawsuits, show that the tobacco companies have perceived kids as young as 13 years of age as a key market, studied the smoking habits of kids, and developed products and marketing campaigns aimed at them. As an RJR Tobacco document put it, “Many manufacturers have ‘studied’ the 14-20 market in hopes of uncovering the ‘secret’ of the instant popularity some brands enjoy to the almost exclusion of others. . . . Creating a ‘fad’ in this market can be a great bonanza.” The following are just a few of the many more internal company quotes about marketing to kids:

Philip Morris: “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens…The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris.”

RJ Reynolds: “Evidence is now available to indicate that the 14-18 year old group is an increasing segment of the smoking population. RJR-T must soon establish a successful new brand in this market if our position in the industry is to be maintained in the long term.”

Brown & Williamson: “Kool’s stake in the 16- to 25-year-old population segment is such that the value of this audience should be accurately weighted and reflected in current media programs . . . all magazines will be reviewed to see how efficiently they reach this group.”

Lorillard Tobacco: “The base of our business is the high school student.”

U.S. Tobacco: “Cherry Skoal is for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I’m saying.”

In August 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler released her final opinion in the U.S. Government’s landmark case against tobacco companies, meticulously describing how the tobacco companies target youth with sophisticated marketing campaigns. According to Judge Kessler, tobacco companies intimately study youth behavior and use their findings to create images and themes attractive to youth. Judge Kessler found that “Defendants spent enormous resources tracking the behaviors and preferences of youth under twenty-one…to start young people smoking and to keep them smoking."
Judge Kessler’s conclusion is very straightforward, “The evidence is clear and convincing – and beyond any reasonable doubt – that Defendants have marketed to young people twenty-one and under while consistently, publicly, and falsely denying they do so.”

The sources for quotes and statistics in this article, along with additional resources regarding smoking and our children can be found at Tobacco Free

This article was a very difficult one for me to write.
In fact it made me cry.
The nicotine in cigarettes is one of the most addictive substances available and it is now known that tobacco companies have deliberately altered their products to make them even more addictive.
Forty percent (40%) of adults diagnosed with serious lung disease will continue to smoke, not because they want to but because they just don’t feel able to stop. It’s not a matter of “will- power”; it is the nature and definition of addiction.
Self-blame, shame, and self-loathing on the part of the patient often accompany lung disease. Many times families and society at large also regard lung disease as a self-inflicted illness.

Adults who smoke must take responsibility for their addiction and find a way to conquer it. But they did not start smoking as adults. That is what makes me cry. I think of our children. I think of the adults who make up the tobacco industry plotting to prey upon those children, snare them and then move on to other children because the ones they’ve caught will either quit smoking or die. Perhaps both. And customers must be replaced.

We are all concerned about the abuse of our children. We are on guard against online predators. We have Amber Alerts to find children who have been abducted. We make every effort to protect our children from adults who would harm them. Criminal adults, people that we regard as monstrous.

At the same time, other adults, organized into profit making companies, sit at conference tables and calculate how to best lure our children into addiction, disease and premature death.
I cry because I am afraid for the children that I love.
I cry because I don’t know how we can make them stop.
I cry because I don’t understand how this can happen.

Related Posts:

50 Irish Kids Every Day Of The Year

Ah, Ms. Lozano, I'll bet your mother is proud...

yet this woman, and millions like her, remain targets