30 September 2007

Warning: Big Tobacco Targets Women and Girls

Camel No. 9: Targeting Women and Girls - Glamour, October 2007 Issue
It comes in a shiny black box with flowery hot pink or teal borders. Camel No. 9, the name says in lettering that looks suspiciously like that of a famous perfume. "Light and luscious" reads the enticing slogan. "Loathsome and lethal" would be more accurate. Camel No. 9 cigarettes, introduced in January 2007 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR), are the latest entry in Big Tobacco's long history of marketing cigarettes to women and girls. The result has been devastating for women's health.

While RJR claims that it is marketing only to women, its advertising and promotions tell a different story. Slick ads for Camel No. 9 have run in magazines popular with girls, including Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and InStyle. Find out Glamour, October 2007 Two-page Spread Promotion at the top. Promotional giveaways include berry lip balm, cell phone jewelry, cute little purses and wristbands, all in hot pink.

Camel No. 9 continues a long history of tobacco industry targeting of women and girls that dates back to the 1920s. In the 1960s, Philip Morris introduced the first brand specifically manufactured for women, Virginia Slims, with the marketing slogans "You've come a long way, baby," "It's a woman thing," and "Find Your Voice."

These marketing campaigns cynically equated smoking with independence, sophistication and beauty and preyed on the unique social pressures that women and girls face. Starting in the 1970s and continuing today, women have been targeted with advertising for so-called "light" and "low-tar" brands, which implied claims of reduced risk that the tobacco companies knew to be false.

In the United States, more than 21 million adult women and 1.8 million girls currently smoke cigarettes, putting them at risk for heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, emphysema and other life-threatening illnesses. As a result, more than 178,400 women die of smoking-caused disease each year, with additional deaths caused by the use of other tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco. While smoking harms and kills both males and females, women smokers face even greater health risks from smoking than men. In the United States, smoking rates among males and females in high school are almost equal (22.9 for males and 23.0 for females), and 18.1 percent of adult women are current smokers.

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