Responding to Marketing Questions

Marketing questions deciphered.

Marketing statements by tobacco companies are explained by the image they convey and their actual countermessage.

Image Conveyed

"Men who smoke are tough and athletic."

Smoking actually decreases athletic performance (USDHHS, 1994a).

  • Children and teens who smoke have decreased lung function and cough more (USDHHS, 1994a) than young people who do not smoke.

  • Smoking can add strain to the heart because nicotine causes the narrowing of blood vessels (CDC, 2003c).

  • Inhaled carbon monoxide results in less oxygen carried by the blood to muscles (CDC, 2003c).

  • The lungs strain to compensate for the above changes, resulting in shortness of breath and excessive coughing (CDC, 2003c).

"People who smoke look good and are sexy."

The way smokers look in advertisements is not how they look in real life.

  • Tobacco smoke does not smell good, and the smell often lingers in the hair and the clothes (CDC, 2003c).

  • Smoking stains the teeth and is a cause of bad breath (CDC, 2003c).

  • Smokers age prematurely and acquire more wrinkles than nonsmokers (The Nemours Foundation, 2002; ACS, 2003).

  • Chewing tobacco is not attractive. It is associated with gum disease and tooth loss. It increases the risk of mouth cancer, a potentially life-threatening condition. Treatment for mouth cancer is often disfiguring (NIDA, 2003).

"Women who smoke are thin."
  • Be open about the fact that there is a high likelihood of a person gaining weight when he or she quits smoking.

  • However, be sure to stress the fact that the majority of smokers who quit gain fewer than 10 pounds and that gaining a little weight is not a significant health threat when compared to the health risks that arise from smoking (Fiore et al., 2008).

"Smokers are cool."
  • Children and teens who smoke tend to have a lower self-image (USDHHS, 1994a).

"Smokers are happy."

  • Kids who smoke are more likely to get lower grades than kids who do not smoke. This could be risky for college-bound students who need a certain GPA to meet academic requirement (USDHHS, 1994a).

  • Smoking is associated with an increased likelihood of agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and depression (Johnson et al., 2000). This may be related to respiratory difficulties and the effect of nicotine on blood vessels to the brain.

  • Among teens with psychiatric illnesses, regular smokers were 4 times more likely to attempt or think about suicide and 3 times more at risk for self-mutilation when compared to nonsmokers (Makikyro et al., 2004).

  • Stress can be a predictor of smoking, especially for those who do not know other ways to cope with their stress (Wills et al., 2002).