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Tobacco Advertisements Essay

1806 words - 7 pages

Tobacco advertisements have been a sensitive subject in America especially among parents who do not want their children to become smokers. I know from personal experience that tobacco is extremely toxic and can do major bodily harm. My grandfather was a chain smoker for over twenty years. He started smoking in his late teens and he died from lung problems that were caused by his addiction to cigarette smoking. My father is also a chain smoker and he started smoking when he was sixteen. He is starting to experience the same problems that my grandfather had due to his chain smoking. This history of smokers in my family has struck a cord in me. It has caused me to look further at the history of tobacco advertisements aimed to people under the age of eighteen, past precedent in court that was passed based on these advertisements, and current trends in tobacco advertisements today.

The first print tobacco advertisements that used celebrities as the main focus of the advertisements came about during the 1950’s in America. Huge celebrities such as Phillip Morris would endorse cigarette smoking in print advertisements. This type of marketing technique involves many social psychological theories. One theory is the Social Impact Theory. According to three authors the Social Impact Theory is, “ . . . interprets “social pressure” quite literally: people experience psychological forces pressing on them, just as they experience physical forces such as sound and weight” (Breckler, Olson, and Wiggins 431). One sub-category of this theory is the Liking Technique. According to Steven Breckler, James Olson, and Elizabeth Wiggins the Liking Technique is, “ A strategy to increase compliance, based on the fact that people are more likely to assist others they find appealing than others they do not find appealing” (338). They go on further to say that,
Liking can be based on a variety of qualities and still exert an impact on compliance: we are more likely to be influenced by people who are physically attractive, people whom we know, people who are similar to us, and people who are trustworthy. In short, just about any source of likability or attractiveness increases a requester’s success (339).
The advertisement Phillip Morris appeared in is a perfect example of this. (See exhibit A). The problem with the Social Impact theory and the Liking Technique is that they encourage people (in particular people under the age of 18 who are not fully developed) especially those who are more easily influenced by advertisements in the media to start smoking. This type of advertising only glamorizes cigarette smoking and does not let the consumer know the side affects cigarette smoking can have on the body.

Another social psychological theory that became popular in the 1950’s print tobacco advertisements was the Social Learning Theory. According to Breckler, Olson, and Wiggins the Social Learning Theory is, “ An approach proposing that humans learn many...

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