The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimates that 16.8 percent of Americans 18 and older currently smoke cigarettes. This equates to roughly 40 million Americans — the entire population of California. Cigarette smoking has long been known to cause the onset of many preventable diseases and continues to take more than 480,000 American lives each year. With the dangers of smoking widely known, what leads individuals to pick up the habit of smoking and what can we do to not become victims of smoking? Any marketing major will tell you that knowing your target audience for selling a product plays an important role in successfully selling that product. Big tobacco companies know this and employ their advertising tactics on youth in hopes of creating lifetime customers.
In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported cigarette companies spent $9.17 billion on advertising and promotion. From full-page magazine ads in Glamour to sponsorships of concerts and sporting events, big tobacco companies often advertise a sense of adventure and empowerment that comes with smoking cigarettes.
This unrealistic depiction is what often drives manyyoungAmericansto start smoking. With an advertising scheme directed at the aspirations of many youth, there is no wonder why tobacco companies are able to recruit 3,200 new youth younger than 18 every day to smoke their first cigarette.
With tobacco companies advertising ever present within youth culture, the key to not becoming another statistic of big tobacco is to stay informed of the serious implications that can arise from smoking cigarettes. With 480,000 Americans dying every year from smoking related illnesses, there is no mistake that cigarettes are harmful to one’s body. Cigarettes contain many known harmful chemicals like vinyl chloride and cadmium. Vinyl chloride, which is the main component in polyvinyl chloride piping, is a byproduct of the burning of tobacco leaves. Cadmium is a toxic naturally occurring metal found within the soil.
Tobacco plants readily absorb this toxic metal and store it throughout the tobacco curing process. When the tobacco is burned, these chemicals are released and are embedded within the lining of one’s lungs. Vinyl chloride and cadmium are known carcinogens directly linked to the onset of cancer. There are 67 more chemicals like these found within cigarettes that are known to cause cancer. With such an abundance of harmful chemicals found within cigarettes, there is no doubt cigarettes are detrimental to one’s health.
Staying informed on the true agenda of tobacco companies and the chemicals found within their products can be a trying task. The University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan’s Health and Wellness Club is providing an information session from noon until 1 p.m. March 16 in honor of National Kick Butts Day. Informational resources as well as interactive models will be on display to help others become more informed on the detrimental effects of smoking.
The best defense from becoming a victim of big tobacco is to stay informed on the serious consequences of smoking cigarettes.
Ian Jasso is an Afghanistan War veteran and biochemistry and public health sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan. He is the current president of the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan’s Health and Wellness Club and will attend the University of Wisconsin- Madison in the fall.