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The dirty dozen: 12 myths that undermine tobacco control

E-cigarette maker njoy seen as takeover target amid innovation bloomberg

This is perhaps the most dangerous myth about tobacco. Despite the tobacco industry&#x02019 s pledge to curtail many of its activities as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA),89 cigarette advertising and marketing continues to reach children and tobacco companies continue to fight public health efforts.90 For decades, the tobacco industry has employed lawyers, public relations experts, and scientists to divert attention from global public health issues, distort scientific studies, interfere with politics, and reduce budgets for scientific and policy activities.91&#x02013 93 More recently, tobacco companies have filed lawsuits to stop public health advertising campaigns that they claim are &#x0201c anti industry.&#x0201d 94

Tobacco industry market leaders have recently been pressured to adopt corporate social responsibility programs to account for and redress the tobacco industry&#x02019 s adverse impact on society. However, the tobacco business&#x02014 with its fiduciary responsibility to preserve and increase tobacco profits&#x02014 is inherently socially irresponsible. For example, Philip Morris executives privately admit that the purposes of these programs are to protect the company&#x02019 s reputation, enhance shareholder value, and defend the right of adults to smoke, and that the programs do not indicate any significant change in the way Philip Morris does business.95

Cigarette advertising continues to reach children.87,96 For example, magazine ads for each of the 3 most popular brands among youths reached more than 80% of young people in the United States an average of 17 times in 2000.97 Children who own tobacco company promotional items (T shirts, caps, etc.) are up to 7 times more likely to smoke than those who do not own these items.98

Children aged 12 to 17 years&#x02014 the most likely age of smoking initiation&#x02014 are twice as likely as adults to be exposed to tobacco advertising,99 and teenagers are 3 times more sensitive to cigarette advertising than adults are.100 Depictions of smoking in movies also increases smoking among teens. Those who see movies that depict smoking are 3 times more likely to smoke than teens who do not see smoking in movies, and half of all smoking experimentation among teens has been attributed to this exposure.101 There is more smoking in movies now than at any time since 1950,102 and use of a specific cigarette brand imparts greater appeal to the brand.103 Endorsement of cigarette brands&#x02014 the use of specific brands by stars in movies&#x02014 has increased 11 fold since implementation of the MSA.103 Stars who smoke onscreen strongly influence smoking behaviors among teens, and the greater the level of smoking depicted, the higher the likelihood that teens will become smokers.104 Depictions of smoking in music videos, on television, and in other media also influence the smoking behaviors of teens.105,106

Tobacco industry promotion of smoking even undermines the ability of parenting to prevent adolescents from starting to smoke&#x02014 which contradicts the tobacco industry&#x02019 s contention that parenting practices, and not their marketing activities, are critical determinants of smoking among youths.107