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Carcinogenic Comics: Doral Cigarette Ads For Kids

I'm so old that I remember when doctors used to endorse cigarettes. I recall the "Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" and "Whaddaya Want - Good Grammar or Good Taste" slogans from the Sixties. And I remember these ads from back when I sometimes used to read Marvel comic books. From Flashbak:

You could never get away with this sort of thing today. Any hint that the cigarette ad is marketed towards minors is strictly verboten in the US. But back in the early seventies, it was ‘game on’. The Doral tobacco company utilized the same basic advertising strategy as Twinkies: humorous and colorful full-page comic book ads.

And it's not just Doral; Camel and Winston got in on the act, the latter with their famous Flintstones ad aired in prime time. This ad, available on YouTube, is embedded in the article referenced above.

So have a look at what the tobacco companies once did to lead up to that multibillion dollar lawsuit that they lost. But it wasn't all bad news - a fellow I knew in high school retired at age 45 because he became an attorney at the right place and time and got a piece of that action. And he didn't smoke.


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Ah one: A "child" is someone between the ages of 6-11, while the ages of 12-19 are "adolescent". In your examples, they commonly use the terms "young adults" or, if they do give an actual age range, it is 14/15-19 and mostly talk about them as a future market.

An a dos. Up until 1987, the legal age to smoke was 16. This means that they were legal a market that could be target with ads.

an a mittsu. A cartoon character linked to underage smoking is not the same as a cartoon character being used to specifically target, and create underage smokers. When your product is named "Camel" it makes sense that you'd use a camel as a mascot. Using a cartoony camel makes sense since it's a known fact that camels don't take directions very well and almost never pose the way a photographer would like. I don't know if they still do, but Hamms used to use a cartoon bear to sell beer. Were they trying to get 10-year-olds to go out and buy a six pack? Is Met Life trying to get minors to take out life insurance policies by using Snoopy? Again, was Joe Camel specifically created to target kids or did it just become so popular that kids recognized him?

an a whatever Sanskrit for 5 is. Do the tobacco companies hope that kids grow up and purchase their product? Of course they do, it's a legal product and their existence depends on having customers. Are they specifically targeting kids to create underage smokers? I doubt it. Back in the days that these ads were produced, there was a very good chance that mom and dad smoked. The most effective advertising was that pack of cigarettes laying on the coffee table. It created brand familiarity and as it was equated with the idea of growing up, smoking became a temptation for kids. Society was more effective at creating young smokers than any ad produced by the tobacco companies. All the techniques in the examples that were given have been used by advertisers for years to sell every type of product imaginable. Yet, no one claims that Esso was trying to sell gasoline to children by using a cartoon tiger in their ads. It's easy to find demons when we all agree that a product is a bad product, which cigarettes are. It's easy to say that Joe Camel was aimed at kids because we have a bias against the product but, because we appreciate good tires, we don't equate the Michelin Man with targeting children.

Bottom line. Cigarettes are bad. I would love to see them banned. Just because a child recognizes a product or mascot doesn't mean they were targeted. I could recognize the Playboy logo when I hit puberty. That doesn't mean that Huge was targeting kids to sell his mag. In my opinion, everyone loves a good witch hunt and this is a prime example.

Champagne bubbles for everyone
-barely noticeable sigh-
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Seriously? Children! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Winston tastes good like a cigarette should! No filter, no flavor, just a role of toilet paper! Well, that's the way we sang it. . .
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The problem with this article is that it assumes hand-drawn advertising is directed toward and appeals to only children. Not one of the examples in the article has a child even appearing in the ad. Just because they used a comic book style format doesn't mean they were aimed at children. Were these ads placed in publications specifically aimed at children? You didn't find these ads in Boy's Life or My Weekly Reader. As far as I know, the only comic book that ran a cigarette ad was the old, Willie the Penguin comic book, and that was an ad for Kool cigarettes, who must have thought it was a good idea because their mascot was a penguin. The tobacco actually self-banned tobacco ads in comics back in 1964. The Flintstones, as the article noted, was a primetime show that families watched together. While using the characters to sell cigs wasn't a brilliant move, they were not specifically aiming their ads toward the kids. Mom and Dad were watching as well. Lucy and Ricky advertised cigarettes to the same audience as well. It was a common practice to run commercials in a show that contained the show's characters. Cigarette companies were guilty of glamorizing smoking and trying to gain customers but so does every other product and, at the time, it was legal. While I doubt the tobacco companies would lose sleep if the ads did convince underage kids to take up smoking, to say that the ads were directed specifically toward them isn't correct. We are far better off that these types of ads are now banned because, adult or child, promoting smoking is a bad idea.
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