Oral Cancer Foundation Calls for FDA Authority Over Tobacco Marketers
Senate to Soon Review Version of Bill Recently Passed by House of Representatives
“The percentage of oral cancer patients represented by women has increased tremendously over the past four decades, and we believe the marketing efforts of the tobacco industry is a major causal factor,” said
Hill cited “Deadly in Pink: Big Tobacco Steps Up Its Targeting of Women and Girls,” a comprehensive report recently issued by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The report studied numerous tobacco marketing campaigns, images from which can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/deadlyinpink.
“In reading this report, three conclusions seem inescapable,” said Hill. “First, the marketing campaigns of the leading tobacco companies have — unfortunately — been extremely effective. Second, the managements of these companies have a complete disregard for the health of the women and girls they are attempting to persuade to smoke their cigarettes. And third, the inability of these companies to voluntarily engage in safe and responsible behavior dictates that the FDA must be given authority to regulate their marketing activities.”
As the “Deadly in Pink” report documents, the nation’s two largest tobacco companies — Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds — have recently deployed new marketing campaigns that romance cigarette smoking as feminine and fashionable. In late 2008, Philip Morris USA repackaged its Virginia Slims brand into “purse packs” — small, rectangular cigarette packs that contain “superslim” cigarettes. Available in mauve and teal and half the size of regular cigarette packs, the sleek “purse packs” emulate cosmetics containers and are clearly designed to fit in small purses. Their “Superslims Lights” and “Superslims Ultra Lights” nomenclature is consistent with the tobacco industry’s history of associating smoking with weight control and of appealing to women’s health concerns with misleading claims such as “light” and “low-tar.”
In 2007, R.J. Reynolds launched a new version of its Camel cigarettes, packaged in shiny black boxes with hot pink and teal borders. The product is named Camel No. 9, which evokes the famous Chanel No. 9 perfume, and is supported by magazine advertising featuring flowery imagery and vintage fashions. The ads incorporated slogans such as “Light and luscious” and “Now available in stiletto,” the latter referring to a thin version of the cigarette pitched to “the most fashion forward woman.” Ads ran in magazines popular with women and girls, including Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan,
Despite being the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, tobacco products currently are virtually exempt from regulation. The aggressiveness of these new marketing campaigns has led other organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, to call for Congress to grant the FDA authority over tobacco products. To that end, on
- Restrict tobacco marketing in stores frequented and publications read by teens to black-and-white text only.
- Ban all remaining tobacco industry sponsorships of sports and entertainment events.
- Ban misleading health claims such as “light” and “low-tar” and strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products.
- Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco packages and advertising.
- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of their products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
- Grant the FDA authority to require changes in new and existing tobacco products to protect public health, such as the reduction or removal of harmful ingredients.
“This legislation would not be necessary were it not for the tobacco industry’s long, reprehensible and irresponsible history of targeting women and girls with ads attempting to portray smoking as fashionable, liberating and a viable means of weight control,” said Hill. “From ads in the 1920s urging women to ‘reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,’ to Virginia Slims’ condescending ads in the 1960s telling women ‘You’ve come a long way, Baby,’ to the recent product launch of Camel No. 9, tobacco marketers have continually demonstrated that their concern for the health of their bottom line is primary while their concern for the health of the American female is nonexistent.”
In the U.S., each year tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation
The Oral Cancer Foundation, founded by oral cancer survivor
SOURCE Oral Cancer Foundation