Comprehensive tobacco ad ban a must

Once a financial lifeline to a young nation, tobacco is now widely known to be highly addictive and a threat to one’s health. Despite its dangers, every day the persuasive and glamorous commercial messages encourage the use of tobacco products among minors and youth in the United States.

While advertisements for traditional tobacco products are banned on television and radio, e-cigarettes can advertise without legal barriers. This ambiguous policy allows nicotine products to be promoted to non-users and young people with the goal of hooking new customers. America should implement comprehensive advertising bans on tobacco products to protect impressionable consumers.

Tobacco commercials are usually designed to provoke feelings of social acceptance, sophisticated fantasies, and masculinity. Pragmatically, a piece of information creates its own demand; thus, ad-exposed people become influenced through false fantasies. As tobacco products are addictive by nature and stimulate dopamine in the brain, the new buyer cannot avoid the tendency to buy another packet of cigarettes. To stop this vicious cycle, all scopes of advertising should be banned. Eliminating tobacco advertisements will reduce the level of social acceptance of tobacco products.

Critics of an advertising ban claim existing laws, which prohibit advertising on television and radio, are sufficient. They neglect to consider that firms are developing new advertising platforms through the internet, social media and promotional offers to retailers.

Moreover, tobacco-sponsored public entertainment events, where social values are exchanged, like sporting events, music concerts and art exhibits, are on the rise. Such social promotions run the risk of attracting children to the product. Thus, a limited set of tobacco advertising bans has marginal or no effect.

A 2004 article in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice found that comprehensive advertising bans reduce smoking initiation by an average of 6 percent and smoking prevalence by an average of 4 percent.

Critics against an advertising ban argue it is a barrier to the flow of commercial information and against the First Amendment. Still, the government can ban tobacco commercials legally as they focus on misleading and false sensation — thus, they do not bear the authentic characteristics of commercial speech, such as price and availability.

Tobacco advertising intentionally uses deceptive tactics to present the idea of nicotine consumption as socially acceptable and harmless. Such untrue advertisements can motivate non-smokers and minors to take risky steps and begin a harmful addiction.

Alarmingly, recent statistics show addiction is spread over the younger generation gradually. It is high time the government enforced a comprehensive banning policy on the advertisement of tobacco for the safety of its people.

Source: University Press