Hey Kid, You Want a Vape?
One of the most egregious violations of ethics caused by unrestricted capitalism forms in tobacco marketing and advertising. Commonly referred to as, Big Tobacco, the industry proves time and time again the illusion of business ethics visa vi their deliberate profit seeking at the cost of addicting children and ultimately killing them. Meet these tobacco marketing bastards, who target kids lives to maximize profit.
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The Financial & Social Cost of Tobacco
Smoking kills more than 480,000 people every year, which is about one in every five deaths in the United States. This social cost is staggering when one considers the fact that there is no justification for selling tobacco, other than profit, since it has no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Along with this social cost, there is the financial cost. The cost of cancer each year is estimated to be $171.6 billion dollars. Tobacco is financially costly to society, impacting many sectors including the workforce and health care. The annual cost for lost productivity in the US due to smoking is $92.4 billion dollars per year. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tobacco is one of the most significant drivers of health care cost. This is due to the fact that tobacco causes more deaths than HIV, drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined.
Another public health concern, Vaping tobacco, affects not only individual users, but also society. Vaping tobacco can have negative consequences on the social and financial well-being of the users and their families, as well as the health care system and the economy.
- Increased risk of addiction and dependence on nicotine, which can impair the ability to quit smoking or vaping and lead to dual use of both products. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can affect the brain development of adolescents and young adults, and alter their mood, learning, memory, and attention.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins can cause lung injury, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other health problems. Vaping tobacco products contain substances harmful to the lungs and body, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, metals, and carcinogens. When exhaled some of these substances appear, exposing bystanders to secondhand vaping.
- Reduced social acceptance and increased stigma among peers, family, and community. Vaping tobacco products can be perceived as a sign of low social status, poor health, or bad judgment, and can lead to social isolation, discrimination, or bullying. Vaping tobacco products can interfere with social norms and expectations of certain settings, such as schools, workplaces, or public places, and cause conflicts or violations of rules and policies.
Some of the financial costs of vaping tobacco include:
- Increased spending on vaping products and accessories, which can reduce the disposable income and savings of the users and their families. Vaping tobacco products can be expensive, especially for heavy users who need to buy more e-liquid, batteries, coils, and other parts. The average cost of vaping tobacco products is estimated to be between $1,000 and $1,500 per year, depending on the type and frequency of use.
- Increased health care costs due to the treatment and prevention of vaping-related illnesses and injuries, which can burden the users, their families, the health care system, and the society. Vaping tobacco products can cause or worsen various health conditions that require medical attention, such as lung injury, asthma, COPD, pneumonia, heart attack, stroke, and cancer. The health care costs of vaping tobacco products are estimated to be more than $2,000 per person per year, resulting in a total of $15 billion annually nationwide.
- Reduced productivity and economic output due to the loss of work time, income, and human capital, which can affect the users, their families, the employers, and the economy. Vaping tobacco products can impair the physical and mental performance of users, and increase the risk of absenteeism, presenteeism, accidents, injuries, and disability. Vaping tobacco products can also reduce the life expectancy and the quality of life and contribute to premature death. The productivity and economic costs of vaping tobacco products are estimated to be $92.4 billion per year, based on the lost productivity due to smoking.
Vaping tobacco is not a harmless alternative to smoking and carries serious social and financial implications for users and society. Despite the clear statistics of social and financial cost, the Big Tobacco marketing bastards keep deceptively selling death, because business is business.
The Industry of Death
Tobacco is an old, multi-billion dollar, global industry that already settled charges of "negligent manufacture, negligent advertising, fraud, and violation of various state consumer protection statutes" that resulted in deaths of millions of Americans over many decades as well as a public health crisis, evidenced by these companies signing of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998.
Despite a history of lawsuits, the Master Settlement Agreement's legal restrictions on advertising, and just monumentally bad press; Big Tobacco marketing bastards continue to advertise their products: specifically to children. There is no great mystery as to why these bastards keep the industry of death lucrative.
Tobacco is a unique product: no beneficial use, inexpensive to produce, and capable of generating many years of revenue through repeat customers. As such, the industry is dependent on selling to the youngest possible market to maximize the profit generated by lifelong customers.
Marketing Death to Children
Big Tobacco, if nothing else, is marketing genius. How does a company sell a deadly product to a target market legally age restricted from using it? These companies know their target market well and they know all the triggers and natural weaknesses of that market which include: peer pressure and cognitive immaturity.
Intensive and Deceptive Advertising
The Big Tobacco marketing bastards claim they target adults but who is this ad meant for?
The industry of death is not afraid to use a pretty girl in a skimpy outfit to link the product sexually as well as humorously. Many other sexist messages are used in tobacco ads, as well as to link humor and other positive connotations to the product to promote harmlessness. The audience is men and takes advantage of cultural shifts in views of women, though still objectifying, showing a "strong female heroine," "robots," and "warrior." Ads like this target young men who are science fiction fans.
Tobacco advertising appeals specifically to male youth by linking ideas of masculinity and beauty for girls. Vaping is cool and anti-vape ads are cringe.
Tobacco companies also know kids are uniquely susceptible to advertising because of their developing minds. Some professionals argue adolescents are more susceptible to addiction than adults due still developing cognitive functions that make them less rational and more likely to act on impulse. Others argue adolescents are not inherently irrational or impulsive, but rather have different motivations and values than adults, and that their decision making is affected by their social and emotional context. In either scenario, adolescents are are at a disadvantage to make rational decisions about using tobacco or to weigh the long-term implications of the choice. Whether you are a kid or adult, the decision to market to kids should inform you with everything you need to know about Big Tobacco.
Tobacco Under Fire for Intentional Marketing
Big Tobacco has a long history of deliberately targeting and marketing to kids, using various tactics to entice them to start and continue smoking. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tobacco companies spend more than $8 billion a year on marketing in the US, much of which reaches and influences young people. Some of the strategies Big Tobacco uses to target kids include: advertising in magazines, retail stores, and online platforms that are popular among youth; sponsoring sports, music, and cultural events that appeal to young audiences; offering discounts, coupons, and free samples of tobacco products; creating appealing flavors, packaging, and design of tobacco products; and promoting tobacco use in movies, TV shows, and video games. A recent report by the Truth Initiative found that video games glamorize tobacco use to youth, exposing them to pro-tobacco imagery and messages. The report analyzed 118 video games released between 2016 and 2019, and found 31% of them featured tobacco use, including 10 of the top 20 best-selling games. These games often portray tobacco use as a way to enhance the characters’ abilities, attractiveness, or social status, and rarely show the negative consequences of tobacco use. By using these tactics, Big Tobacco aims to recruit new customers, increase sales, and undermine public health efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use among youth. This goal impacts more than kids by significantly increasing the long term public health risk.
The longer people use tobacco the greater the social and economic cost incurred by society.
Beyond the statistics and marketing, Big Tobacco represents inherent flaw of capitalism in which morality and ethics don't take a back seat but are nonexistent. Big Tobacco and supporters of the so-called individual freedom see this product use as a choice like eating fatty foods or drinking alcohol. Perhaps it is a choice but the logic of this choice loses rationality when you consider tobacco has not benefit and is highly addictive. Foods and alcohol provide benefit by changing intake but the same cannot be said for nicotine.
All nicotine use is dangerous.
What should frighten us about Big Tobacco is the ease in which capitalism creates bastards willing to market anything for a dollar and then protects them. The same moral majority that claims to have the best interest in mind for the people by enacting laws to control sexual freedom and gender are the same people who pledge fealty to Big Tobacco through donation acceptance. The same voters who fought and won to overturn Roe v Wade in the name of protecting children, are the same people who believe selling tobacco is personal choice despite decades of deceptive marketing to children. The same individuals who see welfare and public healthcare as unnecessary are the same people willing to let all the tobacco users die when the time comes. Who are these people, you ask?
About half of America.
If you want to know who the bastards of marketing really are, just look around. They are your neighbors or your friends who see capitalism as absolutely necessary for a free, successful country, and all those millions of victims, and current kids who will join them in death, are an acceptable price for that freedom and success – not the collateral damage of an ethically-bankrupt economic system.