US tobacco groups target young people in anti-smoking ads

The tobacco giants Philip Morris International, JT International

and British American Tobacco are using images of fashionable teenagers

in a controversial anti-youth smoking campaign breaking on 16 April.



The six TV ads, created by TBWA/London, feature teen- agers engaged in

day-to-day activities that do not involve lighting up. The spots contain

no voiceover and the non-smoking message is instead communicated through

lines of copy appearing onscreen.



The teenager's names and ages are presented followed by a succinct

description of the activities that they are shown engaged in. We are

told that 'Sylvia, 15, does fashion, does her own thing, but doesn't

smoke'. Similarly, a 15-year-old surfer named Rodrigo 'does practice,

does wipe out, does succeed, but doesn't smoke'.



Each ad ends with the web address of youthsmokingprevention.net, an

entity established by the three companies to provide a focal point for

the campaign.



Links are available from the site to the web pages of the three

companies.



JTI, Philip Morris and BAT insist that the campaign is part of a

long-standing commitment on the part of the tobacco industry to reducing

youth smoking.



However, the anti-smoking pressure group ASH has condemned the campaign

as a smokescreen intended to reduce pressure on the tobacco

industry.



The group argues that ads positioning smoking as an adult activity are

likely to encourage teenagers to take up the habit.



The ads, which have a funky soundtrack, will run across 38 European

countries on the MTV Europe cable network.



Live Issue, p24.



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