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Tobacco Advertisement: Problem and Solution Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2022

Introduction

Companies spend billions of dollars on marketing tobacco products and target young children and youths who are easily swayed by these advertisements. They end up engaging in unhealthy behavior bound to affect their health. As this young generation is continually exposed to these ads, it is more likely to engage in the purchase and use of tobacco, especially among those who have never smoked before. Governments are not doing enough to protect the interests of these young people as most of the extant policies are mainly geared towards protecting the retailers, such as in the case of price control. Therefore, parents have a great responsibility in shaping their children’s behavior and protecting them from unhealthy persuasive advertisements promoting the use of tobacco products. In this discussion, therefore, the focus is on the influence of tobacco advertisement on use among teenagers and how policies and parent involvement can help to redress the problem.

Problem

Tobacco advertisement is problematic because it advocates for tobacco consumption in a vulnerable population. Duh-Leong shows that declining tobacco consumption is related to an increase in tobacco advertising, which persuades children and youths to use tobacco. Tobacco advertisement can be linked to the increased electronic cigarette use among adolescents in the United States, where 16.0% are high school students, and 5.3% are middle school students (Kim et al. 291). The use of e-cigarettes has been significantly higher compared to the typical cigarettes due to intense marketing, as seen in an increase in advertising expenditures that are 5 times more than the usual expenditures (Kim et al. 291). Parents and related authorities should focus on discussing these advertisements with their teens to help them see beyond the enticing and appealing message.

Most concerning is the fact that marketers are utilizing all channels to reach the teens and youths; thereby, increasing their exposure to advertising and promotion stunts likely to compel them to indulge in tobacco use. Given that the media can be easily manipulated within hours has made the process of monitoring the media an arduous process. Therefore, it is possible for social peers to reach their social networks privately with the commercial appeal of tobacco products (Lapierre et al. S154). Social media thereby has aggravated the issue of tobacco advertising by luring teens and youths using private platforms.

Children and youths need guidance in making useful and pertinent life-changing decisions. Du-Leong advises parents to talk to their teens, but they should ensure they have a cordial relationship as the channel through, which these teens can value their parents’ opinions. E-cigarettes and related smoking devices are displayed as safe for use as they do not burn tobacco but fail to acknowledge that nicotine is highly addictive. As a result, policymakers should lead initiatives that prompt marketers to provide accurate information that is not misleading. Unfortunately, the use of e-cigarettes preceded consumption of traditional cigarettes and influenced the frequency of use over time, leading to addiction and associated risky behavior (Bold et al. 2). Legislative agents need to be assertive on the use of tobacco advertisement messages to avoid misleading the general public, including both parents and their kids.

Solution: Policy Makers and Parents

It is important for policymakers to review the messages of tobacco advertisements and adhere to the extant rules on advertisements. Whereas bans were placed on traditional tobacco advertisements, e-cigarettes advertisements should be monitored to ensure that they do not promote the use of traditional advertisements indirectly (Lapierre 153). Moreover, policymakers need research to show the harmless effects of such kind of smoking without distraction by the arguments of marketers.

Despite the fact that there are policies aimed at regulating the distribution and sale of alcohol, parents have a major role in promoting the adoption of healthy behavior among their children. They are meant to be good role models, as shown in a study by EL-Amin et al. (3). The research indicated that parents and peers have a strong influence on an individuals’ behavior; hence, parents have the tendency to influence overall behavior by regulating the social networks formed by their parents. Whereas a sense of belonging is imperative, children need guidance in developing social ties with individuals with whom they share values and beliefs as they are unlikely to be influenced to indulge in negative behavior. Parents should be concerned about their children’s, but they also need to be empowered on the effects of all tobacco products because there is a misconception that smokeless tobacco does not have negative effects (Cho et al.). After all, even though policies are developed to regulate the advertising of tobacco products, parents have an upper hand in shaping the smoking behavior of their children.

Counter-Argument

While advertising is one way of marketing to consumers, tobacco products are readily available due to increased density in distribution outlets. Such increased tobacco outlets in different regions result in equally high access and availability of such items. Policies are not adequately stringent because they tend to protect the interests of retailers in the context of competition. Moreover, environmental smoke cues encourage smoking as seen in an example of Ontario given by Henriksen (150). A direct relationship was seen between the density of tobacco product outlets and the purchase of these products.

Additionally, in instances when parents are not well-informed about the nature and effects of different tobacco products, they are likely to overlook their children’s indulgence in their use. A study by Cho et al. indicated that Myanmar parents were ignorant of the benefits and harmful effects of e-cigarettes, and as a result, did not pay attention to their children’s antisocial behavior. Such misconceptions result in increased use of tobacco use among teens and youths and the creation of an unhealthy society.

Discussion

Tobacco advertisement has become a normal practice as companies are willing to spend huge sums of money reaching the innocent and naïve teens and youths. Apparently, research shows that these young individuals engage in smoking due to the high perceptions of accrued benefits, which is not the case. Such perceptions affirm the negative and misconstrued messages that result in false judgments and decision-making. Whereas parents have an upper hand in controlling the smoking behavior of their children, there are also concerns about their awareness regarding the benefits and harm from smoking. The extant policies are not effective in protecting the interests of children compared to retailers.

Conclusion

There is a significant need for research in this area to understand the effective role of parents in helping their children avoid the influence of wrong messages in tobacco advertisements. While the use of tobacco remains a voluntary choice, research to evaluate the effective mechanisms that can be applied to save teens and youths from misleading advertisements is essential. Most importantly, there is a need to understand the extent played by both policies and parents to unearth the underlying gaps in improving the current interventions.

Annotated Bibliography

Kim, Minji, et al. “Effects of E-Cigarette Advertisements on Adolescents’ Perceptions of Cigarettes.” Health Communication, vol. 34, no. 3, 2019, pp. 290-297.

The article presents a study showing the effects of tobacco advertising across three groups of participants. The first group was exposed to e-cigarette, the second to cigarillo, and the third to bottle water, and there were two types of participants, non-smokers and ever-smokers. Ever-smokers did not show any significant differences in advertisements across the different types of advertisements while those who had never smoked had low perceptions of risks linked to smoking. Smokers did not reveal benefits linked to smoking while the non-smokers had positive perceptions about the use of cigarettes. The article asserts that while the advertisements of e-cigarettes has been considered favorable and replaced advertising of traditional cigarettes, they promote the use of traditional cigarettes in the long run. Guardians and parents should take up their guiding role to help teens and youths see beyond the false adverts and embrace healthy behavior, but marketing tobacco products lingers on as a salient impediment.

The article is important because it helps to understand the problem associated with tobacco advertisements better. It demonstrates non-smokers have low perceived risks of e-cigarettes; thereby, becoming more vulnerable to the influence of tobacco advertising. It also presents the confusing messages presented in these advertisements where they assert that e-cigarettes are harmless and later that these e-cigarettes are similar to traditional cigarettes. These advertisements mislead the public by painting e-cigarettes as an advanced from of cigarettes meant to address the shortcomings of traditional cigarettes. The article contributes to the modeling of solutions based on the explicit comprehension of how tobacco advertisement misleads teens and youths.

Works Cited

Bold, Krysten W., et al. Pediatrics, vol. 141, no. 1, 2018.

Cho, Su Myat, et al. “Cross-Sectional Study on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) and Violations of Tobacco Sale Regulations in Myanmar: Do These Factors Affect Current Tobacco Use among Myanmar High School Students?” BMJ Open, vol. 10, 2020. Web.

Duh-Leong, Carol. How Cigarette Advertisements Influence Teens. HealthyChildren,org, 2018. Web.

Kim, Minji, et al. Health Communication, vol. 34, no. 3, 2019, pp. 90-297.

Lapierre, Matthew A., et al. Pediatrics, vol. 140, no. 2, 2017, pp. 152-156.

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