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You’ve come a long way baby

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Virginia Slims was a brand of cigarettes introduced in 1968 by Phillip Morris and advertised specifically for women using the line “You’ve come a long way, baby”. It is estimated that this campaign led to a rapid increase in smoking among teenaged women in the US. Now, a similar, but less visible, problem has arisen in India, as many papers, including the Hindu Business Line reported:

The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) said smoking is eight times more prevalent among Indian men than women. However, an Indian woman smoker puffs more cigarettes a day on an average.

The average figure for the Indian women smokers is 7 a day. Her male counterpart burns 6.1 sticks, the GATS data suggested.

Edelweiss analysts said cigarette companies would increasingly target women as only 3 per cent of women tobacco users smoke daily. It said that high potential among women and chances of switch over from non-cigarettes to cigarette category might aid a leading cigarette manufacturer.

Time magazine reports:

Nearly half of all men and more than 1 in 10 women use tobacco in many developing countries, and women are starting to smoke at earlier ages, according to the largest survey to date on international tobacco use. If current trends continue, warns the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco could kill a billion people around the world in this century.

The authors of the new study say the numbers call for urgent changes in tobacco policy and regulation in developing nations. While tobacco use is declining in industrialized countries, it remains strong — or is even increasing — in low- and middle-income countries, a trend the authors attribute to powerful pro-tobacco forces worldwide.

“Our data reflect industry efforts to promote tobacco use,” said lead study author Gary Giovino of the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo in New York, in the statement. “These include marketing and mass media campaigns by companies that make smoking seem glamorous, especially for women. The industry’s marketing efforts also equate tobacco use with Western themes, such as freedom and gender equality.”

As far back as 2001, the Surgeon General’s office of the USA reported the most widely used targeted cigarette advertisement techniques:

As western-styled marketing has increased, campaigns commonly have focused on women. For example, in 1989, the brand Yves Saint Laurent introduced a new elegant package designed to appeal to women in Malaysia and other Asian countries. National tobacco monopolies and companies, such as those in Indonesia and Japan, began to copy this promotional targeting of women.

One of the most popular media for reaching women—particularly in places where tobacco advertising is banned on television – is women’s magazines. Magazines can lend an air of social acceptability or stylish image to smoking. This may be particularly important in countries where smoking rates are low among women and where tobacco companies are attempting to associate smoking with Western values.

A study of 111 women’s magazines in 17 European countries in 1996-1997 found that 55% of the magazines that responded accepted cigarette advertisements, and only 4 had a policy of voluntarily refusing it. Only 31% of the magazines had published an article of one page or more on smoking and health in the previous 12 months. Magazines that accepted tobacco advertisements seem less likely to give coverage to smoking and health issues.

Events and activities popular among young people are often sponsored by tobacco companies. Free tickets to films and to pop and rock concerts have been given in exchange for empty cigarette packets in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Popular U.S. female stars have allowed their names to be associated with cigarettes in other countries.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

August 21, 2012 at 3:42 am

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