Natural Isn’t Always Healthier
What comes to mind when we think of the word natural? The first thing that comes to mind would probably be foods that are healthy for the body without added flavors like high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. Tobacco is probably the last thing that comes to mind. However, the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company claims that natural tastes better, especially their 100% additive-free natural tobacco with “no chemicals, flavorings, or preservatives.” The product that I am referring to is an advertisement for Natural American Spirit cigarettes.
The ad itself is very inviting with both warm and cool colors like rich browns, bright yellows and baby blues. These colors make the ad seem mellow even though the product that they are advertising isn’t a mellow subject. When you take a look at the text in the article, you will realize that the word natural is typed in the largest font and it stands out because the company wants it to be the main focus of the advertisement. The words one-hundred percent additive free also seem to imply that the product is safer then smoking regular cigarettes, and that it doesn’t have the same health risks associated with smoking. However, as I flipped the advertisement over to see if there was any additional information on the back, I noticed that the company mentions that despite the non-additive properties in their cigarettes, that “does not mean a safer cigarette.” The company is attempting to differentiate their product by making it seem as if natural tobacco is safer than smoking regular cigarettes; however, smoking any type of cigarette is dangerous because they are all addictive and if smoked excessively can lead to a shorter life span than non-smokers.
When you follow the link on the ad to the products website TryAmericanSpirit.com and click on the link called responsible marketing policy, the company mentions “our advertising is simple, straightforward, and information-based, with the goal of educating smokers about our natural tobacco products.” However, the last sentence on the page reads “we don’t encourage non-smokers to start smoking, nor do we encourage smokers to smoke more.” These statements completely contradict each other because although they mention on their site that they aren’t encouraging people to smoke or smoke more, they are sneakily trying to appeal to both a non-smoking and a smoking audience in their advertisement, which is misleading and unfair.
On the right side of the ad, the company has included three similar and smaller “pass it on” ads that can be torn off of the original ad and given to friends, or anyone else that is interested in their cigarettes; therefore, the Santa Fe natural tobacco company is attempting to increase the number of people who will be introduced to the product, and the amount of smoking customers. This definitely shows that cigarette companies have no respect for the well-being and health of their customers, especially if they want people to pass on information about their harmful products in order to increase their revenue. The company is also offering two $10 gift certificates that can be used towards products of greater value. The coupons are also included on the three smaller pass it on ads. Sadly, this is a great marketing strategy because in order to get elastic customers (or customers who can live without your product) to try your product instead of another similar brand, it helps to offer incentives like coupons and gift certificates. The “pass it on” aspect of the advertisement proves that the statements made on the company’s website regarding not encouraging non-smokers to smoke, and smokers to smoke more are false. Although the company makes these claims, the addictive aspect of cigarettes will keep those who smoke coming back for more. Not only is the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company passing on information about their product, but they are also passing on illness and death to their customers, whether they are aware of it or not.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 440,000 people die every year due to cigarette smoking. Second-hand smoke is defined as “a complex mixture of gases and particles that includes smoke from the burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip (side stream smoke) and exhaled mainstream smoke.” It is also responsible for causing heart disease, lung cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome. It contains about 250 chemicals that are known to be toxic and more than fifty that can cause cancer. In addition to the few risks that the ad already mentions, smoking also causes other types of cancers, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia. The ad says that smoking may complicate pregnancy, but it fails to mention that in the United States alone, maternal smoking is defined as the most important determinant of both perinatal death and low birth weight. According to Dr. David M. Quadagno in the department of Biological Science at the Florida State University, maternal smoking has been linked to “infertility, spontaneous abortions (miscarriages), ectopic pregnancies, low birth rate, placental irregularities, infant deaths, and long-term effects on the physical, emotional and intellectual development of the child” (33). The more cigarettes smoked during pregnancy, the smaller the weight of the baby will be at birth, and less than 5.5 pounds at birth is not considered healthy. Not only does the advertisement fail to list all possible risks of smoking, but it doesn’t give the complete truth about some of its risks, therefore, it is the responsibility of the consumer to educate themselves on certain products and whether or not they should try them. Also according to the CDC, the warning labels on cigarettes will be both revised and strengthened by October 2012, and the warnings for the products will cover the top fifty percent of the front and back panels on cigarette packaging. However, until October 2012, cigarette companies will still be able to include their risks in a way that makes them seem irrelevant, similar to this ad which mentions only a few health risks associated with smoking. These are conveniently located on the back of the flyer.
As mentioned earlier, the company also claims that their advertising is “information based, with the goal of educating smokers about our natural tobacco products.” However, if they strive to educate smokers, then one would assume that they would include the types of ingredients found in their natural tobacco on their advertisements. After examining the ad and searching the website (as much as possible without being able to log in due to my age) I wasn’t able to find the ingredients of the natural tobacco products listed anywhere. Due to the missing ingredients, I find the companies claims of 100% additive-free natural tobacco to be slightly suspect, especially since they either forgot to include the ingredients or did it purposefully, the second assumption being more reasonable due to the sneaky tactics of tobacco companies.
In my anti-ad, I chose to highlight those exact risks of smoking that cigarette companies prefer to locate on the back of their advertisements, in my hopes of veering people away from the addictive and harmful properties of cigarettes. Advertisements like mine would cause potential smokers and current smokers to think twice before they smoke their next cigarette, and hopefully be overcome with enough guilt to resist the temptation if they are addicted. On the front page of my ad, in the center of the document are the words “natural tastes better… especially with hints of…” and a picture of healthy vegetables. At first glance, the person looking at the advertisement would think that the ad is about vegetables. However, when they take a closer look at the ad, they will realize that the words surrounding the vegetables don’t make any sense, which will draw them towards the ad. Around the center are the health risks of smoking, in a large, bolded, and italicized font which will bring attention to the harmful effects of cigarettes. On the back page of my ad are the words “have you ever dreamed of looking like this?” Underneath the text is a picture of a smoker’s diseased, blackened lungs and underneath this picture is text that reads “if so, then try some 100% addictive free tobacco! It’s guaranteed to make you smile,” with a picture of a smokers yellow, decaying teeth underneath it. Not only does my ad focus on what smoking may cause, but it also highlights how smoking affects the body physically and destroys the body internally. The pictures of the smoker’s lungs and teeth are intentionally included in my ad because they are very graphic and since textual warnings aren’t as effective, then maybe graphic warnings need to be implemented on cigarette warning labels so that smokers are constantly reminded of the harm that they are causing their bodies to endure. It’s easier for people to ignore text than it is for them to ignore pictures.
Along with many others who are passionate about this issue, I would argue that products that are harmful to the body should be against the law to advertise unless they inform their customers about all of the health risks associated with smoking. Even though it is the consumer’s job to educate themselves on the products that they buy, everyone doesn’t have the resources to educate themselves on issues regarding health; therefore, those with a vast amount of knowledge regarding cigarettes should share their information with as many people as possible. One company that has made it their goal to educate the public on the effects of cigarettes and the harmful ingredients found in them is called truth. This company has spent a large amount of money to advertise their commercials on television. In their commercials they set up interviews in which they ask people if they have what it takes to be a tobacco executive and in the interviews they ask multiple questions that the people have no idea how to answer. Once the commercial is over, the person watching is left to reflect on how ridiculous the tobacco industry and tobacco executives really are. The website thetruth.com even has a link to their Factory (emphasis on the fact) which includes as list of tobacco related facts. The factory mentions information like toluene is an ingredient found in both cigarette smoke and dynamite, and other shocking facts about the ingredients found in cigarettes. According to data, this company was responsible for 300,000 fewer youth smokers in 2002. This shows that they are effective in their efforts of educating the public on “Big Tobacco” (their name for the tobacco industry).
Since the tobacco industry is not likely to die out anytime soon due to the large number of addicted smokers, I think that they should at least include steps on how to quit smoking, or provide links to companies who could aid in the process on their packaging. If these companies could show a little more concern for their customer’s health and well being, then maybe they would receive a little less complaint about their deadly products. I find it unfortunate that the tobacco industry advertises their products in such an alluring and successful way that draws millions of people a year into their traps. According to the truth website, tobacco products killed about 5 million people around the world in 2006. Although I can’t argue that the media is forcing consumers to try harmful products, it does seem to depict those products in a way that makes them seem less bad, especially when they don’t include all of the health risks of smoking because this makes the product more appealing than it would be if they included a longer, more detailed list of health risks instead. If something isn’t done about the way that the tobacco industry advertises their products soon, then the lives of many smokers will be at stake.
“Facts.” Thetruth.com. American Legacy Foundation. N.d., Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
Quadagno, David. Human Reproduction Lecture Manual. Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2009. Print.
“Responsible Marketing Policy.” TryAmericanSprit.com. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
“Smoking and Tobacco Use.” Cdc.gov. Office on Smoking and Health. 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.