Due to the flurry of recent lawsuits and constant stigma surrounding Big Tobacco, cigarette companies have recently launched their own media campaigns to deter the youth of America from picking up the addictive habit. But critics are speculating whether this anti-smoking initiative was genuine—or just another clever advertising stunt to hook a new generation of potential smoker, Healthday.com reports
According to Danny McGoldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the ads released by Big Tobacco were duplicitous in nature. “The tobacco companies are up to their old tricks,” he told Healthday. “Anyone who thinks that the tobacco companies have reformed are kidding themselves.” A recent investigation into tobacco commercials and their rates of exposure to young children, which was the idea behind this theory, revealed that many found smoking to be less dangerous, more acceptable and showed a higher likelihood of taking on the habit at a later age. This is the notion that has anti-smoking activists like McGoldrick growing increasingly distressed.
The American Journal of Public Health published the survey results online, and further noted that, “During questioning at a trial, Carolyn Levy, director of Philip Morris youth smoking prevention programs, admitted that the aim of their programs was to delay smoking until age 18. This contrasts with the aims of public health-funded programs, which are to encourage people to never take up smoking.”
Critics have also panned the misleading PR tactics used by Big Tobacco. Stanton Glantz of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California added, “These programs, like earlier similar efforts by the tobacco industry, simply serve the industry´s public relations needs and support their political efforts to displace meaningful tobacco.”