Publicly the tobacco industry has always maintained that it does not target children. However getting access to the young is essential for the tobacco industry to reach the next generation of potential consumers and teenagers are the key battleground for the industry. However, since advertising for cigarettes is increasingly regulated, and targeting children is illegal, the industry needs other ways to reach the young.
Access to Children
One way to get access to children is by setting up and running ‘anti-smoking’ education programmes for schools, the media, young people and parents. This section presents research by the WHO into eduction programmes set up by the tobacco industry. The WHO concluded that industry educational interventions depict smoking as an "adult choice" and as "uncool", but fail to provide messages known to be critical in involving youth in anti-smoking efforts.
Education programs, however, are not just providing a way of getting into schools. They should be understood as part of elaborated corporate social responsibility efforts, creating goodwill for the tobacco industry.
Essentially, as one 1993 Philip Morris document revealed, going public with a campaign to discourage juvenile smoking serves the objective to position the industry as ’a concerned corporate citizen’ in an effort to ward off further attacks by the anti-tobacco movement.
Twenty years earlier, British American Tobacco put it even more bluntly. The company offered the government a proposal to deter exposure of young people to cigarette advertising. An internal document explained that the proposal was meant to show that the company was doing something about discouraging young people to smoke, adding:
- This of course is a phony way of showing sincerity as we all well know.
It is essential for tobacco companies to associate their brand with positive values, specially to young people.
Imperial Tobacco, for instance, is one of the founders of The Love Where You Live campaign in the UK aimed at youths, school and local communities to take care of their environment. The tobacco company partners McDonald's, Wright (chewing gum) and an environmental group to encourage people to clean up their litter after them. The fifth partner in this campaign is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The campaign has a special programme for schools.
- A list of pages in the category Education Strategy