Cigarette vs. alcohol advertising targetting teens

We have seen in the recent months that the government is cracking down on cigarette companies targetting teens with their ads. They attest that the companies are advertising in “hip” magazines such as Spin, Rolling Stone and others. That got me thinking. On Adbusters, they say that a child will be exposed to 100,000 ads for alcohol before they reach legal drinking age. Crack open most magazines that teens read and you will probably find ads for liquor. So here’s the topic for debate: Why is it that the government is targetting tobacco companies for advertising in these publications while not saying anything to Big Beer™?

These ads don’t seem to target teens that much differently. That is, that using their product will make you cool, attract beautiful women and make you the life of the party. All this while playing the product off as harmless.

Tell me what ya think!

What’s so bad about targetting teens in cigarette ads? One must be 18 - that’s eight-TEEN - in order to buy cigarettes. Just because a 16-year-old may not be much different from an 18-year-old is hardly the cigarette company’s fault.

Who are they supposed to target? Geriatrics?

The last thing we need are Truth* adds for alcohol. If i see some idiot in a rat costume wheezing on the sidewalk, i’m gonna show him assult is much more dangerous than smoking any day of the week.

Placing ads in Spin and Rolling Stone is considered targeting kids just because kids happen to read those magazines? Last I checked, those magazines were about music, and people of all ages can enjoy music.

Around five years ago, there was an alcohol company that made an alcoholic icy-pole, and several groups complained that it was a deliberate attempt to attract children - who tend to like icy-poles and associate them with good things. It was awhile ago, so I can’t remember the specifics, but I think the company’s rebuttal was that adults enjoyed icy-poles too, and they were designed to be eaten at clubs or raves. I can’t remember if they pulled the product, but it did get a lot of free publicity.

here is a link about tobacco companies in youth magazines.

I’m not really sure what an “icy pole” is, some sort of frozen treat I imagine, so I don’t know how to react to that.

On a similiar front is the new Nico-water, or whatever it finally ends up being called, that will be sold supposedly in Evian-sized containers. It will not be a prescription drug, it’s OTC. I’m looking forward to it, personally. It’ll be marketed on two fronts. One is the “quit smoking” angle, the nicotine in the water helping abate cravings and acting as a substitute. It’s supposed to cost signifigantly less than popular quit-smoking products like the gum and the patch. Another angle is the old line for stick chewing gum…when you can’t smoke, drink Nico-water. It would be sold at airport terminals that are nonsmoking so that smokers can abate nicotine urges while sitting through stopovers and taking long flights.

The product raises a number of related marketing issues. For one, the government would surely want to restrict access to the water to people over 18. If they didn’t, the concern would be that teens might get hooked on nicotine via the water, then later turn to cigarettes as a cheaper delivery device for the nicotine. The mixture in the water would surely make it safer than cigarettes, since the potentially dangerous sideeffects of smoking are a product of the smoke, filter, and chemicals that accompany the nicotine, not the nicotine itself (presumably, that’s why the patch and gum are OTC.) The public would surely fear a bait-and-switch, getting 16 year olds hooked on the substance then switching the delivery system. The same people who worried that kids would start drinking Zima thinking it was just carbonated water might be concerned that the Nicowater would be deceptively packaged or marketed to play down the water’s nature in ads targeting teens.

Of course, a quit-smoking aid must be available to people of all ages, since people of all ages smoke. It would be unfair to deny a 16 year old smoker the opportunity to purchase the most cost-efficient method of quitting.

To the OP’s main point, I think the distinction is all about image. “Big Tobacco” has been demonized thoroughly by the media, and by prominent politicians (most recently by Al Gore.) Attacks on tobacco are more effective because the industry is seen as villianous. Alcohol is socially tolerated to a far greater extent than tobacco. Finally, the government knows that many more people drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes. Attacking alcohol will draw as many enemies as it does allies. The media and government can successfully ostracize tobacco users from the rest of the population. You’re either a smoker/chewer or you aren’t. There are as many ways to enjoy alcohol as there are people, and attempts to demonize the substance would fail. The wealthy elite would look to their wine cellars and be alarmed by attacks on beer, in fear that their own mode of imbibing would be someday threatened.