It’s the happiest time of the year with family and friends gathering together to enjoy the holiday season. And of course the tobacco industry is getting in on the festivities by wishing you happy holidays, providing seasonal pictures, and suggesting you “give, get and share the spirit” by sharing with others.
Newport cigarettes is sharing the holiday spirit by surrounding their cigarette pack in a wreath and wrapping it up in a bow. Considering that “tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, wrapping up declining health and early death in a bow is an odd way of presenting your product to consumers.
Marlboro, the cigarette of the Marlboro man, wishes you Happy Holidays by posting spurs on a snowy fence rail. Trouble is, if the spurs are pointed up, as these are, doesn’t that mean the cowboy has moved onto greener pastures in the sky (as three of the Marlboro men have done)? Marlboro has a game called “Time Lapse” that has new levels for your playing enjoyment. We can only hope the game shows you what you will look like after smoking for a few years. If you tire of the game, you can “check out the Canadian take on taffy” on their website. They do provide a clever disclaimer in the corner of the ad that states “Nothing about our cigarettes or packaging, including color, should be interpreted to mean that any cigarette is safer than any other cigarette. Nothing about our cigarettes will help you quit smoking.” Is their disclaimer intended to make the consumer feel better about the product, or to make Marlboro feel better about themselves?
Snowy scenes are popular this time of year whether you smoke or dip. Red Seal is feeling generous by giving you free coupons to buy their product, which causes gum diseases and tooth loss, according to the Surgeon General Warning they have posted on the top of the advertisement. Somehow exchanging free coupons for gum disease doesn’t sound like a fair exchange of gifts.
We can’t forget the ladies, and Virginia Slims certainly hasn’t. Not only do the ladies get free coupons, but they get free “gorgeous digital wallpaper.” As this is a Philip Morris cigarette, like the Marlboro cigarettes above, they also offer the same disclaimer as to color and packaging. And like the Marlboro ad, they offer a Quit Tobacco website for you to visit if you so choose. If gives the consumer the illusion that this company that pushes an addictive product cares about your health.
SNUS, a type of smokeless, spitless tobacco, wants you to “give and get” while you share the spirit with friends. Their holiday offer gives you 43 days of surprises and “chances to give back to a great cause.” Since it is the holiday time, what else would you do but party throughout, and their calendar shots show happy people raising their glasses and spirits. Of course, you don’t see their product because that is discretely tucked between cheek and gum, out of the way so you never have to leave the party.
Tobacco companies can’t just offer their product to consumers anymore, they need to provide incentives, such as website games, recipes and contests for people to log onto their sites. Coupon offers can drastically reduce the cost of products; updating your info on the Camel websites will earn you a pack of cigarettes for just $1. All the advertisements provided warnings, although some warnings need to be larger. And if the color of the packages isn’t important, why are there different colored packages? While the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 18 in many states, most tobacco websites state 21+ as the eligible age for their offers.
Which brings up a very good point; if tobacco companies restrict their websites and offers to those 21+ in age, why not increase the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 as many municipalities has started doing? It would just make it easier for everyone. Just something to think about.
You can see the above tobacco ads and others at Trinkets & Trash