Cigarette advertising restrictions do not have and intended effect, and despite that in many societies there is an increase in cigarette consumption. Only who is affected by those restrictions are the cigarette companies which are in danger of becoming a form of commercial censorship.
However, I do not want to claim against consumer protection laws against false or misleading advertising claims. The end result of cigarette advertising restrictions and any other legal products leads to a limited choice, a block of the free flow of information, emasculate competition and cancelling its benefits.
Besides this, it also penalizes the advertising media by starving them of revenue and restrains commercial investments and employment. Not only that it endangered current investments, but it also places powers of censorship in the hands of self-centred pressure groups or legislative committees, who have no commercial experience or responsibility to be able to exercise them. The intended effects of cigarette advertising restrictions also have harmful side effects.
For example in Croatia for the last couple of months on the television, you could find commercials with the detailed development of tumour on lounges and ruining of aortas. Theses commercials did nothing but discussed a large number of population, and even non-smokers couldn’t look at the full add, while the smokers felt discriminated and exploited to society as disease and treatment.
There are also adds which offer 24-7 telephone lines for people who wish to quit smoking, and in these situations, they were offering some pride winning rewards, which was a short term stimulant for people to quit smoking. How really can we think that people are that narrow-minded that they will do whatever the media tells them to and that they were not aware of their health risk before? People die of cancer caused by smoking, the tumour is painful and incurable; while on the other side, many old people smoked almost all of their life and didn’t face this huge health problem.
Maybe the times changed, the cigarettes changed, but the immunity of one’s organism depends from one person to another and how it will affect somebody will vary among the society. It is a pleasure and risk just as getting on a roller coaster, running too fast by the dangerous street, stealing vegetables from the neighbour since u might get a gunshot if they catch you, and many other human activities that are practised in everyday life.
If we want to talk about how many people one cigarette company killed, then we can also discuss such issues as Bush’s attacks on innocent people and captives in Cuba, not to mention the permission to CIA for killing anybody they found menace to society. I will not go into political discussions whatsoever, I will only discuss under seven major headings about cigarette add restrictions, their harmful side-products, and the unfounded allegation against cigarette advertising.
1. Cigarette advertising has no significant effect on total consumption.
Advertising is not aimed at increasing total consumption. It is designed to influence brand preference and to help customers to choose a particular brand among many others. These advertisings are not encouraging people to smoke more cigarettes but to smoke their cigarettes instead of other brands.
Those who oppose smoking and advertising are non-smokers use only arguments on the claim that these advertisings increase the total number of consumers. But would really a person after seeing add about Davidoff go and buy those cigarettes, especially if they don’t smoke at all? Of course not, because people are not so easily influenced when it comes to their health and freedom of choice, which they certainly have.
One of the most statistical studies on this subject was carried out by the Metro Consulting Group on the United Kingdom Market, which was studied from 1962 till 1969, and was broadly accepted among UK Department of Health and Social Security. It concluded that no evidence has been found of a significant association between the total level of media advertising and total cigarettes sales. Professor Reinhold Bergler who was the head of the Institute of Psychology published his book “Advertising and Cigarette Smoking” in 1981, and in this book, he examines two studies representing empirical evidence.
The first study is conducted by J.L. Hamilton in 1975, which examines the effects of bans on broadcast advertising in 10 industrialized countries outside the iron curtain. According to his foundlings, the bans on advertising proved ineffective, and the theory about the positive correlation between the volume of advertising and the volume of cigarette consumption is false.
The second study is conducted by Eugene Levitt in 1977, the Director of Psychology at the Indiana University Medical School. He considered the results of media bans in 6 countries of the same category as those covered by Hamilton. The conclusion on this study is that imposing a ban on cigarette advertising – irrespective of the media forms to which it applies, and irrespective of the time it comes into force – is not an effective way of slowing down the rise in cigarette consumption, still less a means of producing a decline in consumption.
In countries were the bans are operating, the consumption has increased more rapidly than in countries which have imposed even limited advertising restrictions. For example, tobacco consumption is growing faster in the Communist Eastern Bloc where no cigarette advertising at all has been permitted for years, than in the – “Free World”, where there is still advertising although with certain media limitation in some countries.
In the Eastern Bloc, excluding the U.S.S.R. where supply problems have almost certainly depressed consumption, by the increase in cigarette consumption was 43% between 1970 and 1980, as against a 35% increase in the “Free World” over the same period. The most remarkable Eastern Bloc country increases, over those 10 years, were Bulgaria 74% (in the context of only a 5% population increase) Yugoslavia 71% and East Germany 58% (despite a marginal fall in population).
Similar examples are to be found in other countries with total bans on cigarette advertising. For example, in Thailand, all advertising was banned in 1969, but cigarette consumption during the 1970s grew at over twice the average rate for the whole “Free World”.
2. Cigarette advertising does not cause either adults or young people to start smoking.
The second main argument used by the opponents of smoking against cigarette advertising is that it causes both adults and young people to start smoking. The industry regards smoking as an adult custom, which adults may choose based on maturity and informed freedom of choice. The industry maintains that its advertising is not a factor in leading anyone to start smoking. Following facts support this view.
For example, studies carried out in 196718 and 1973 by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia examined this allegation and concluded that no empirical research has been able to show that aggregate brand advertising leads to greater tobacco consumption. Nor has anything been found to suggest that advertising entices non-smokers, young people in particular, into becoming smokers. It follows, therefore, that there can be no evidence showing that a ban on advertising would result in reduced tobacco consumption and fewer new smokers.”
Even the director of the United States Office of Smoking and Health stated “It is quite correct, on one hand, not to make ads the criminal in terms of why teenagers, for example, take up smoking. Advertising is certainly not a criminal.” While studying smoking habits in American teenagers Gallup also found that advertising was not among the reasons given for beginning to smoke. Indeed, all the research work is so far done, much of it by bodies opposed to the tobacco industry, has failed to prove that advertising induces young people to smoke, nor is there proof that advertising has the power to start people smoking.
The reasons why people start smoking are complex and mostly concerned with the individual’s psychology, background and social context. People start to smoke because of internal and external factors which have to do with the kind of person he or she is, with the example of parents and friends and with social influences exerted by peer groups. It is also clear that the conclusion of serious responsible researchers is that advertising plays no significant role in initiating the use of tobacco products.
3. Censorship, through advertising bans, denies the principle of free choice and full-product information.
The principles of individual choice and individual responsibility for one’s own actions are fundamental to any free society. Hand-in-hand with those principles go freedom of speech, freedom of action and freedom to select one’s own style of living – providing that one stays within the law. Of these principles the freedom of individual choice, as related to the consumer, is of course particularly threatened by bans or restrictions on cigarette advertising.
Opponents of smoking have argued that a ban on advertising would convincingly express government disapproval of smoking and that this in itself would lead people not to do it. The fallacy of this argument is clearly shown by the evidence quoted in the first section of this paper, that advertising has no significant effect on total consumption. It is obvious, therefore, that people are determined to exercise their right to choose to smoke, despite advertising bans and their supposed implication of government disapproval.
Indeed the very fact that “authority” disapproves of something is for some people a reason to try it. Faced with this situation opponents of smoking fall back at times on the argument that smoking is not merely an individual responsibility, because it may lead to illness which must be treated at public expense.
The argument is of course totally unsustainable because practically everything we eat, drink or do has been accused of causing the disease which must be treated at public expense. Why then should smokers be singled out for special discrimination? The argument also implies that populations are incapable of looking after them and unfit to make their own decisions, in consequence of which they must be subjected to a form of censorship.
Arthur Hettich in the American “Business and Society Review” wrote: “It is our feeling, therefore, that prohibiting cigarette advertising would be a violation of the rights of a legal segment of American business and; more important, a violation of our readers’ right to choose. Should we prohibit automobile advertising from our pages because hundreds of thousands of people are maimed or killed each year from car accidents? Do you feel that we should prohibit liquor advertising because alcoholism has reached an epidemic proportion in this country?
The reasonable answer is, I think, that our readers are highly intelligent people who are able to make up their own minds on these questions.”) For consumers, however, resolved they may be to preserve their freedom of choice, advertising bans are a menace because they deny them the right to be informed of all the factors which might influence that choice. Smokers are thus underprivileged of information on available brands, new brands, prices, tobacco qualities and, perhaps most important of all, new product innovations and developments – and the main and most efficient means of imparting this information is advertising.
The European Association of Advertising Agencies’ memorandum on Cigarette Advertising in June 1978, made some telling points on the assistance to the smoker arising from the provision of such information in countries where cigarette advertising exists, as opposed to the lack of it – particularly information on product development – in Eastern Europe where cigarette advertising totally banned. It said: “This resulted, for example, the predominance of the filter-tipped type of cigarette in most countries where advertising is allowed. The market share of filter cigarettes in those countries is 85% to 90%. In Eastern Europe, however, it is well below 50%.
Moreover, advertising has helped support consumer demand for lighter brands as shown, for instance, by the development of the German cigarette market. Within twenty years the contents of condensate and nicotine in the overall German cigarette market was reduced by more than 50%.” Finally, the referendum held in Switzerland in recent years on the question of whether or not cigarette and alcohol advertising should be banned evoked the following comment.
It was from Dr. Raymond Broger, Member of the Swiss Parliament and President of the Swiss Advertising Federation, which summarizes admirably what has been said in this section on the two principles referred to in its title: “The*Swiss Parliament’ and the Government recommended the people of this country to reject’, the postulated ban on advertising. Our people followed this advice and I consider this to be a wise decision.
Once again the Swiss people have declared themselves as being in favour of self-responsibility and freedom for the individual, and at the same time in favour of the right of the people to seek and obtain information through the advertising media. They have therefore according to their tradition, spoken out against state interference in those matters where such interference is neither effective nor appropriate.”
4. Censorship, through advertising bans, restricts competition and inflicts economic damage.
Advertising bans deprive society, individuals and companies, of benefits which they stand to enjoy under a relatively free and unrestricted economic system. A system of many tobacco brands competing vigorously through advertising does bring with it distinct benefits. These all stem from the fact that a manufacturer, who is free to advertise, will always be energized by the possibility of winning more market share by developing new, more acceptable product types, to suit current tastes, preferences and income levels, which he can bring through advertising to the attention of the consumer.
Without advertising, however, there is little or no motivation for the manufacturer to invest in any product innovation. The opponents of smoking: who advocate advertising bans, seem easy to forget this when they favour the swing to filter cigarettes and advocate an even greater reduction in deliveries of ‘tar’ and nicotine. They ignore the fact that brands of these types derived from product innovation in response to changing consumer preferences, and that advertising for these new products enabled consumers to become aware of them. From this awareness grew a trend towards these types to CD which manufacturers have responded around the world.
But such a trend, seen by many consumers to be beneficial to them, has to date made little progress in the countries of the Communist Eastern Bloc, where all advertising is banned. In those countries the filter penetration in 1980 of the market was estimated to average 43%, compared with an equivalent figure of 86% in the “Free World”. In the same countries low delivery cigarettes – 15 mg of ‘tar’ or below – have an insignificant share of the market, whereas already such products account for over 20% of consumption in the whole “Free World”. To take two notable examples, in the U.S.A. the figure is 48% to 50% and in West Germany, it is nearer 70%.
A further benefit that advertising bans eliminate, is the cost-lowering effect of advertising. As a Netherlands study conducted by the Steering Group of the Dutch Advertising Association pointed out: “In all, advertising has a cost lowering effect, which, if competition is adequate. is passed on to the consumer as a price advantage. Advertising forces companies to make competitive offers which the consumer can verify. Advertising therefore acts both on lowering prices and increasing quality.” In short, competition provides the incentive; advertising provides the means; consumers derive the benefits. Take out advertising, and both motivation and benefits disappear.
5. Cigarette advertising has not created and does not create a climate of acceptability for smoking
Smoking is seen as acceptable for. two primary reasons. Firstly, is is part of the established social fabric and people have been smoking for centuries, since long before advertising began. Secondly, smoking products are widely and legally offered for sale. Limiting or banning advertising would not change either of those facts and only anti smoking zealots would suggest that smokers should be disliked or that smoking should be made illegal. Smoking is acceptable because it has been accepted by many individuals as an enjoyable activity Tobacco advertising is a result of that acceptance, not a cause.
6. Advertising does not manipulate the consumer
Critics of advertising, including the opponents of smoking, often view it as a manipulative force, used by advertisers to create consumer wants. This is incorrect, h6wever, as the’ decision-making power lies not with the advertiser but with the consumer. Consumer purchasing choices are decisions purposefully made by the individual, rather than involuntary responses to a manipulative force.
Those who believe advertising to be manipulative take a rather unflattering view of the consumer as being weak-willed and without a mind of his own. The well known United States Social Observer and newspaper columnist, George Will, suggests that “those intellectuals who regard the masses as sheep and themselves as shepherds” maintain this view Consumers are not sheep, as some researchers have reminded advertisers.
For example in his book “The Intellectual and the Market Place” Professor George Stigler contended: “The advertising industry has no sovereign power to bend men’s will – we are not children who blindly follow the last announcer’s instructions to rush to the store for soap.
Moreover, advertising itself is a completely neutral instrument, and lends itself to the dissemination of highly contradictory desires.” According to the experts mentioned above and many other distinguished writers in this field, advertising is not a manipulative force.
Why is it that in the US, those younger than 18 can not buy cigarettes and those younger than 21 can not buy alcohol, yet they have higher numbers of youth smoking and drinking than in any other countries, where those laws rarely exist? It is in our nature to do small illegal things, and it even “pushes” us towards it as toward a forbidden fruit.
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