Tobacco industry executives are reeling from a series of embarrassing appearances before Congress regarding the health effects of smoking and because of disclosures in the media about the nicotine content of cigarettes.
Now comes the consumer and corporate accountability organization, INFACT, and its Tobacco Industry Campaign. One of INFACT’s main goals is to compel the tobacco industry to stop marketing and promotion that appeals to children and young people.
Consider these alarming charges:
“If current smoking patterns continue, over 200 million of today’s children and teenagers, two-thirds of them in the Third World, will be killed by tobacco-related diseases.” Richard Peto epidemiologist, writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.
“The tobacco industry began targeting advertising at women in 1967 with the introduction of women’s brands of cigarettes.’ Within six years, the rates of smoking initiation among girls aged 12 to 17 years old had increased as much as 110 percent.” Journal of American Medical Association.
“Each day 3,000 children will begin smoking. In many cases, they become hooked quickly and develop a lifelong addiction that is nearly impossible to break.” Congressman Henry Waxman.
INFACT has launched a nationwide campaign to persuade retailers to stop displaying “Joe Camel” advertisements. INFACT is not alone in its attack on Joe Camel. The American Medical Association and 27 attorneys general have criticized RJR Nabisco’s use of the Joe Camel ads. And, in a 1993 letter to the Federal Trade Commission the attorneys general said, about the Joe Camel marketing campaign, “Federal action is necessary to protect our nation’s children from this advertising which entices children to smoke while they are too young to make informed choices about smoking, to heed federally-mandated warnings, or even to purchase cigarettes legally.” The attorneys general believe that the Joe Camel advertising campaign is “seriously undermining the effectiveness of our laws banning sales to children.”
INFACT also wants consumers to boycott Philip Morris. Tobacco accounts for about 40 percent of Philip Morris revenue -over 50 percent of the company’s revenue comes from food and beer sales. Philip Morris brands on the INFACT boycott list include: Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Kraft Food Services, General Foods, Miller, Post, Jacobs Suchard, and Marlboro. According to INFACT, Marlboro cigarettes are particularly popular with children. INFACT is asking consumers to say no to products produced by Philip Morris because of its marketing of cigarettes in the United States and around the world.
Elaine Lamy, Executive Director of INFACT says, “It is time for the public to take action and hold these companies accountable for their life-threatening activities.” The public is responding. Citizens nationwide working with INFACT have already sent 140,000 postcards to the major tobacco company executives asking them to stop marketing and promoting tobacco to young people around the world.
Tobacco company executives should note that INFACT is unwavering and largely successful in its campaigns. INFACT’s boycott of Nestle helped curtail the improper marketing of infant formula by Nestle in developing countries. INFACT also called for a boycott of General Electric because of its role in the nuclear weapons business. Just last year General Electric sold its nuclear weapons division.
INFACT’s mission is to “stop life-threatening abuses of transnational corporations.” Worldwide three million people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. INFACT couldn’t have picked a more dangerous abuse.
For more information on INFACT’s Tobacco Industry Campaign, write to: INFACT, 256 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113.