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Debate: Advertising for tobacco products should be banned

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Should advertising for tobacco products be banned?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

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Influence of ads: Do these advertisements have negative influence on teenagers and young people in general?

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Pro

  • These adverts send an incorrect message. It is not only the peer pressure, but also the malign influence of advertisements that shows smoking as something "cool". Hardly ever is it pinpointed on fancy TV commercials or on billboards that the costs of smoking are far greater than the cost of a pack of cigarettes. The result is more (especially younger) people taking up this harmful habit.
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Con

  • No significant impact. It is very difficult to manipulate people into doing something that is not particularly cheap or tasty. The most important reason why teen take up smoking are not fancy ads, but rather peer pressure and their feeling they "need"to belong somewhere.
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Impact: Would a ban on advertising decrease consumption?

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Pro

  • Cigarettes will lose their appeal. If we ban adverts on tobacco products, they will gradually lose their appeal, because they won't symbolize anything "cool", "smart" or "amazing". Tobacco products will become ordinary consumption goods and thus the number of young people who take up smoking in order to "be somebody" will decrease.
"The US Surgeon General and the US Food and Drug Administration are among those who have examined the evidence and concluded that tobacco advertising does increase overall consumption." [1]
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Con

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Economy: Is advertising for tobacco products important for growth of our economy?

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Pro

  • Advertising curbs imperfect information. Advertising is necessary for consumers, as it not only promotes new products, but it also provides essential information. Imperfect information can result in market failure, therefore anything that limits it should be encouraged.
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Con

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Morality: Is it moral to promote products that kill millions of people annually?

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Pro

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Con

  • Advertising fosters non-rationality. There is nothing moral about encouraging customers to be non-rational and impulsive in spending.
  • These adverts promote the use of toxic and addictive substances. Not only that cigarettes contain tens of toxic chemicals (such as tar) that ruin people' s health, but they also contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. We have already banned adverts on drugs (such as LSD, nicotine, weed), so why don't we ban tobacco advertisements? Because tobacco (nicotine) is no less addictive than other "soft" drugs.
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Freedom: Are advertisements a valuable form of expression?

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Pro

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Con

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Enforceability: Is the ban enforceable?

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Pro

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Con

  • There is a thin line between tobacco ads and "other" ads. Firstly, does the mere appearance of a cigarette in an advert count as "promotion"? Secondly, would the ban apply also to anti-smoking campaigns? And thirdly, what about adverts that use cigarettes just as a complement to a different product? And who is to distinguish between "pure tobacco adverts" and the "all right" category?
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Special case: Are anti-smoking campaigns a good idea?

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Pro

  • Anti-adverts send the right message. Negative advertising shows that not only is harming yourself not cool, but also that harming others is rather unfair.
  • Anti-adverts contribute to global awareness. Given that most negative adverts use either scientific evidence or real-life pictures in order to demonstrate the grave harm cause by tobacco products, they in effect contribute to people's awareness about the possible risks of smoking.
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Con

  • Anti-smoking adverts have opposite effect than intended. As M. Lindstrom in his book Buyology explains, these "negative" advertisements do not prevent or discourage people from smoking, quite upon the contrary - a large neuromarketing study has concluded that anti-smoking adverts stimulate an area in brain associated with craving. That means that he very warnings intended to reduce smoking might well be an effective marketing tool for tobacco companies!

See also

External links and resources:

Books

  • Martin Lindstrom: Buyology

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