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Tobacco Companies Target Young Female Smokers: Hot Pink Ladies-Only

We don’t see much of the Marlboro Man anymore, but what about the “Virginia Slims” woman? Everybody knows what happened to him – or them, two of whom died from lung cancer.

She, however, was never quite as iconic. But that doesn’t mean the tobacco companies don’t have a soft spot for women, especially the young ones, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the report alleges tobacco companies are trying to cultivate a generation of new users with fruity flavored cigarettes and marketing campaigns that target young people, including young women and girls.

In particular, the report takes issue with a recent R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company campaign that it says is clearly designed to attract girls with hot pink product packaging, ladies-only nights at clubs and cutesy party giveaway bags containing cigarettes, berry-flavored lip gloss and cell phone “bling.”

David Howard, spokesman for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, said the Camel No. 9 marketing campaign is not about reaching young people. There are 20 million adult women smokers, Howard said, and 19 million of them smoke some brand other than Camel. Health organizations involved with the report, however, insist the ads cross the line against marketing tobacco products to youth. The report was released in collaboration with the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.

“It seems pretty clear that the ads were designed to appeal to young girls and 20-somethings,” said Ellen Vargyus, counsel for the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking organization. “From [tobacco companies’] point of view, it’s sound marketing to do that. We know that 80 percent of smokers start before they’re 18.”

“In the days when tobacco companies were not so careful about what they said they used to call teens ‘replacement smokers,’” Vargyus said.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 178,000 women die from smoking-related diseases in a year. While death from uterine and stomach cancer has decreased in the last 70 years, lung cancer has surged among women, with an increase in incidence of almost 400 percent in the last 20 years.

The Camel No. 9 campaign caused quite a stir last fall. A group of 40 U.S. House members sent letters to 11 magazines calling on them to stop carrying the ads. The magazines, and their parent companies after them, either did not respond or refused.

Courtesy of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.If the goal of the ads was to get cigarettes in the hands of young women and girls, tobacco companies chose the right style and place, said Rosemarie Conforti, a professor of media literacy and education at Southern Connecticut State University.

“In the age of age aspiration, there are many teen girls who are reading these magazines because they want to be older,” Conforti said. “Magazines, and they know this, are absolutely the manual on how to be a young woman.”

Conforti said the fashion layout especially is the kind of guide girls love. It tells you how to be sophisticated and fashion-forward in three simple steps, she said, and it shows you the lifestyle that goes along with it through the cigarette ad on the right.

“Obviously, the fourth implied step is: ‘And smoke,’” Conforti said.

As these kinds of ads define what it means to be a woman, Conforti said, they also establish a benchmark against which girls and women measure themselves, having a cumulative impact that is more about long-term effects on lifestyle and less about one particular product.

R.J. Reynolds has said it will not advertise in print magazines in 2008. The Camel No. 9 campaign, however, continues online and through other promotional materials that are given away at bar parties.

“The innocence mixed with the sophistication – the roses and the pink mixed with the black — it’s the two sides that every girl wants to be,” Conforti said. “Sweet and sexy, sweet and sexy, that’s what women hear over and over again. You can either be an angel or a whore, and we don’t have a lot of choices for what’s right down the middle.”

Source: Kahrin Deines, Medill Reports/Chicago

Universities Reject Funding From Tobacco Companies

“Just because it’s green, we don’t have to take it,” said Paula Murray, associate dean at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, to The New York Times.

Murray was referring to her school’s recent decision to cut off all funding from Philip Morris, a cigarette manufacturer that has donated over $308,500 to business schools like McCombs since 1989.

The University of Texas (UT) is just one of the many universities across the United States that have recently deemed contributions from tobacco companies “tainted.” On ethical grounds, these schools have decided to ban tobacco companies from funding university development and research.

Philip Morris, which has partnered with UT for many years, had been pressing for a more active role in the McCombs community. Although they already had a program set up to recruit business students as employees, they had asked for more interaction with the students. In December, the McCombs School decided to ban funding for student organizations and faculty research from companies that manufacture cigarettes.

“What it came down to for us was the ethical dimension,” said Dean of the McCombs School of Business George W. Gau, to The New York Times. “The leadership of the school felt that in some sense it was tainted money, that it is money gotten from a product that is significantly harming people.”

Other schools that have banned cigarette company funds include the University of North Carolina, the Universities of Iowa and Arizona, Louisiana State, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Ohio State.

At Stanford, a ban on contributions from cigarette companies was considered, but the idea was dropped after numerous protests from faculty researchers who feared they would not be able to support their research without those funds.

Robert Tisch, late chairman of the Loews Corporation, which produces five brands of cigarettes, including Newport, donated $10 million to fund cancer research at Duke University in 2006.

“The benevolence of the Preston Robert Tisch family will have an enormous impact upon the search for new brain tumor treatments,” Victor Dzau, president and CEO of the Duke University Health System said according to a Duke University news release. “Their contribution will enable Duke to recruit and retain the brightest researchers and will create tremendous promise for all cancer research at Duke.”

Just a year earlier, Duke accepted $15 million from cigarette company Philip Morris to fund the development of the new Comprehensive Cancer Center, which aimed to research ways to help people quit smoking.

Some questioned the tobacco company’s interest in funding a center for smoking cessation and worried that giving Phillip Morris ties to a cancer research center would allow them to tamper with the research.

“You know that saying ‘Bombing for peace is like f—ing for chastity’? Well funding cancer research with cigarette money is kind of like that,” said first-year biology and pre-veterinary major Grace Normann. “It’s paradoxical and unethical.”

“The argument for rejecting funding is that the tobacco industry has a 50-plus-year history of a corrupting influence on medical research,” said Dr. Michael J. Thun, the chief of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society, to The New York Times.

Yet Duke remained insistent that the university’s scientists alone will control the direction of the research. They retain the right to publish results without having Philip Morris approve them.

“We were cautious in considering whether to accept this grant or not. We would not want to be part of any whitewashed effort,” said R. Sanders Williams, dean of the Duke medical school.

RJ Reynolds BuildingThe American Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to help smokers quit, provides grants to universities that wish to do research without accepting additional funding from tobacco companies. The foundation has granted over 300 grants, valued at over $150 million. to support research in tobacco prevention and related topics over the years.

“It’s one of those times where you ask ‘where do you draw the line?'” Director of Student Finances Anthony Gurley said. “If you decide not to accept money from tobacco companies, do you accept money from pharmaceutical companies or chemical companies?”

Ethical dilemmas such as this occur in many forms at colleges and universities across the country. At Guilford, Coke products were replaced by Pepsi products, though many students argued that this was a useless swap because Pepsi, like Coke, has been criticized for similar environmental and human rights violations.

The school has worked to accommodate the concerns of its students by considering ethical standards in their re-bidding of the dining contract. The current provider, Sodexho USA, has long been subject to ethical complaints.

“We make changes based on the responses of the students, and if it goes against something the college stands for,” said Dean for Campus Life Aaron Fetrow, “like the switch from Coke to Pepsi, or when students decided they didn’t want Starbucks so we made the switch to Green Mountain Coffee. We look for (solutions) that don’t harm the global environment and the world.”

Source: Lauren Newmyer, The Guilfordian

Medicaid Could Save $10 Billion Over 5 Years if Recipients Quit Smoking, Study Says

With all the news about government spending on unnecessary items comes news that spending on a program that helps reduce medicaid expenses would be a wise decision.

America’s Medicaid system could spend $10 billion less in costs for its patients’ care over the next five years if they were to stop smoking, according to a new study by the American Legacy Foundation.

This study also found that effective smoking prevention and cessation programs could cut the cost of funding Medicaid by 5.6 percent. This is according to a recent press release issued by the American Legacy Foundation.

According to the report, the costs vary from state to state. In a state such as Wyoming the current Medicaid spending on smoking is $15 million. Meanwhile, in a much more populated state such as New York, that total is much higher, in the amount of $1.5 billion. Overall as a country, if all the smokers on Medicaid quit at the same time it would save the country $9.7 billion according to the press release.

“This report is a wake up call to the nation’s health policy makers,” said Janet Napolitano, who is the Governor of Arizona and also a board member for the American Legacy Foundation. “All of us who are struggling with the ever-rising costs of Medicaid should take these dramatic findings to heart.

With more than 8.6 million Americans suffering from tobacco-related disease, and tobacco remaining the number one preventable cause of death in our nation, we must help smokers quit. These data make clear that investing in proven tobacco cessation programs is sound fiscal and public health policy.

We can – and must – take the necessary steps to save both lives and taxpayer dollars.”, concluded Napolitano.

The amount of taxpayer money that could be saved if smoking is treated at a young age is significant. According to the press release if every state could prevent smoking among all current 24-year-olds, the savings for Medicare would range for each state from $1.4 million for Alaska, all the way up to $125 million for Texas.

The study also showed that the cost for treating women smokers is much higher than males. The average spent on a female smoker in Medicaid funds is $1,372, while for men it is $6.

Medicaid ImageThroughout the country 20.8 percent of adults in the country are current smokers based on the most recent statistics from 2006 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also revealed that smoking rates are not dropping throughout the country. This is the situation for the past two years, after witnessing the smoking rate dropping for seven consecutive years. The rates have remained steady over these past two years. Indicating that the number of potential Medicaid members who smoke is not dropping as it had in past years, increasing the likelihood of the expense of smoking on Medicaid dollars will increase.

SOURCE:
Prnewswire.com. “Smokers Cost Medicaid System Nearly $10 Billion”.

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/11-29-2007/0004713426&EDATE=