"The guy that smokes has been told all the warnings on earth that it is going to kill you, and I think the same thing. I think it is going to kill you. I think any fool that takes smoke down in his belly is going to suffer. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I have made a fortune on it. . . . The only way that we built this country is by selling the rest of the fools in the world tobacco."-James Sharp, longtime tobacco grower in Kentucky, in Merchants of Death-The American Tobacco Industry, by Larry C. White.
THAT candid remark speaks volumes but leaves several questions unanswered. Why do more than a billion people around the world smoke? What induces them to continue with a habit that is known to be death-dealing? After all, the tobacco story is basically the same as the drug story-supply and demand. If there is no profitable market, then the supply dries up. So why do people smoke?
Addiction is the key word. Once nicotine establishes a foothold in the body, there is a daily need for regular fixes of nicotine. Combined with the addiction is habit. Certain situations, established by habit, trigger the desire for a cigarette. It might be as soon as a person gets up or with the first cup of morning coffee, the after-lunch drink, the pressure and social interchange at work, or in recreation. Dozens of apparently insignificant habits can be the "on" switch for a smoke.
Why Did They Smoke?
Several ex-smokers interviewed to try to understand the motivation behind smoking. For example, there is Ray, in his 50's, a former quartermaster in the U.S. Navy. He explained: "I was about 9 years old when I first started smoking, but I got serious about it when I was 12. I recall that I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts for smoking."
Ray: "It was the macho thing to do. You know, it was manly to smoke. I remember that the ads in those days showed firemen and policemen smoking. Then later in the Navy, I had a high-pressure job in navigation, and I felt that smoking helped me ride through the stress.
"I used to smoke about a pack and a half a day [30 cigarettes] and would not start a day without my cigarette. Of course, I inhaled. There's no point in smoking if you don't inhale."
Bill, a professional artist from New York, also in his 50's, tells a similar story:
"I started as a kid of 13. I wanted to be like the grown-ups. Once I was in its grip, I couldn't stop. Having a cigarette was like having a friend. In fact, if I was going to bed and realized I had no cigarettes in the house, I would get dressed again and, regardless of the weather, go out and buy a pack for the next day. I was smoking from one to two packs a day. I admit that I was addicted. And I was a heavy drinker at the same time. The two just seemed to go together, especially in the bars where I spent a lot of my time."
Amy, young and outgoing, started to smoke when she was 12 years old. "It was peer pressure at first. Then, my dad died when I was 15, and the stress of that pushed me further. But as I got older, the ads influenced me, especially that one, 'You've come a long way, baby.' I was a career girl, studying to be a surgical nurse. I was soon smoking three packs a day. My favorite time to smoke was after dinner and whenever I was on the phone, which was often." Did she notice any ill effects? "I had morning cough and headaches, and I was no longer physically fit. Just climbing the stairs to my apartment left me breathless. And I was only 19!"
Harley, a former Navy flyer, now in his 60's, started smoking during the Depression at the age of 5! Why did he do it? "All the kids smoked in my hometown, If you smoked, you were tough."
Harley minces no words about why he smoked. "It was pure pleasure for me. I would inhale the smoke deep down into my lungs and hold it there. Then I used to love to puff out smoke rings. I got where I could not live without my cigarette. I started and ended the day with a cigarette. In the Navy, I was smoking two to three packs a day and a box of cigars each month."
Bill, Ray, Amy, and Harley gave up smoking. So have millions of others-over 60 million in the United States alone. But the tobacco salesmen have not given up. They are targeting new markets all the time.
Are YOU a Target?
With many male smokers giving up smoking in the industrialized nations, plus the loss of customers through natural and smoking-induced death, the tobacco companies have had to look for new markets. In some cases they have changed their advertising strategies in an effort to bolster their sales. Sponsorship of sports events, such as tennis and golf tournaments, is an effective way of giving a supposedly clean image to smoking. Another strategy adjustment is the markets to be targeted. Are you one of their potential customers?
Target number one: Women. A minority of women have smoked for decades, aided and abetted by the example of film actresses such as Gloria Swanson, who back in 1917 was smoking as an 18-year-old. In fact, she got one of her first film roles because, as the director explained: "Your hair, your face, the way you sit, the way you smoke a cigarette . . . You're exactly what I want."
In the 1940's Lauren Bacall, who featured in films with her husband, heavy smoker Humphrey Bogart, also set a glamorous lead in smoking. But the female side of the cigarette market was always lagging way behind the male market. And so were the cancer statistics for women. Now they are catching up fast-in smoking and in lung cancer.
The Philip Morris company, which manufactures a variety of cigarette brands, produces "Virginia Slims," aimed at the modern woman. Their slogan is the one that attracted Amy: "You've come a long way, baby." The ad portrays a sophisticated, modern woman with a cigarette between her fingers. But some women must be asking themselves now how far they have come. Over the last two years, lung cancer has exceeded breast cancer in the mortality rate for women.
Sex is another easy way to make cigarettes seem attractive. One brand invites: "Find More Pleasure." The message includes a want ad, stating: "WANTED-Tall, dark stranger for long lasting relationship. Good looks, great taste a must. Signed, Eagerly Seeking Smoking Satisfaction." The cigarette being presented comes "tall" and in dark paper. A subtle connection?
Links with fashion are another hook used for women. A bait is used for weight-conscious women. The advertisement features a photo of a slim model, and the cigarettes are defined as "Ultra Lights-The lightest style."
Why are the cigarette manufacturers targeting the women of the world? The World Health Organization gives an obvious clue with its estimate that "more than 50 per cent of men but only five per cent of women smoke in developing countries compared to about 30 per cent of both sexes in the industrialised world." There is a huge untapped market out there for tobacco profits, regardless of the ultimate price in health that may have to be paid. And the tobacco salesmen are having success.
The Racial Target
Larry C. White states: "Blacks are a good market for the cigarette makers. Statistics showed that a higher percentage of blacks smoked than whites [in the United States] . . . It's not surprising that blacks smoke in higher proportions than whites, because they are special targets of cigarette promotion." Why are they special targets? According to a report, they are "a group that lags behind the general population in kicking the habit." Therefore, a black client is often a "loyal" client, 'until death do us part.'
Frankie Goh is a full-time family counsellor and researcher. He manage a website : Earn Money Online http://www.ezy-cash.com He is also the Internet Marketing Co-ordinator of Ultra-Herbal Products & HerbalBiz Affiliate Program.