Thursday, October 11, 2007

APHA Calls Camel No. 9 Cigarettes a Threat to Health

According to an article in the October issue of The Nation's Health, the American Public Health Association (APHA) is calling on the removal of Camel No. 9 cigarettes from the market, calling them a threat to health.

The article, entitled "New cigarette a threat to health," states: "APHA is calling on the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to remove its Camel No. 9 cigarettes from stores across the country, describing the company's marketing campaign as a threat to the health of teen girls and young women. In an August news release from the American Legacy Foundation, APHA and other anti-tobacco advocates took the company to task for its new Camel No. 9 ads, which feature black, bright pink and teal colors, a female-friendly design and a name similar to women's fashion icons, such as Chanel No. 5 perfume. ... APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP... stated 'There is nothing stylish or glamorous about these tragic premature deaths. With more than 80 percent of smokers starting smoking before their 18th birthdays, it is imperative that we speak out strongly against a new cigarette brand with such blatant appeal to teenage girls.'"

The Rest of the Story

I just don't get it.

This new cigarette is a threat to health, but all the existing cigarettes are not?

Camel advertising, which so far has been only mildly effective with teenage girls, is unacceptable, while Marlboro advertising, which has been effective in making Marlboro the brand of choice for teenage girls, is not?

Black, pink and teal colors are unacceptable in advertising but sleek black and green are OK?

Using a name similar to Chanel No. 5 is unacceptable, but calling your brand Virginia Slims is fine?

Camel ads which are stylish or glamorous are unacceptable, but ads for other cigarette brands which are stylish or glamorous are OK?

Camel No. 9 is a threat to the health of teen girls and young women, but Virginia Slims, Marlboro, Newport, Capri, Eve, Misty, and other varieties of Camel are not a health threat?

The APHA feels a need to speak out against a new brand with appeal to girls, but not against all the existing brands?

In my view, this whole campaign demanding that Camel No. 9 be removed from the market is making a farce out of tobacco control. Are we really so shallow that what bothers us is the color of the packaging of the cigarettes, rather than the fact that they are killing people? Are cigarettes acceptable if they target men, but not if they target women? And if the concern is youth smoking, then why are only Camel No. 9 cigarettes a problem, when the overwhelming majority of youths are smoking Marlboro, Newport, and regular old Camel cigarettes?

The headline "New cigarette a threat to health" implies that existing cigarettes are not a threat to health. Is this really the message that the nation's chief public health association wants to be sending?

I don't really understand what is happening in tobacco control these days, but it appears that we are operating based on knee-jerk reactions, rather than on sound principles, planning, and scientific and policy analysis.

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