Art Attack – Perpetuating the myth
I’m the worst kind of smoker – an ex-smoker. One who reacts horribly to secondhand smoke and who hard bites his tongue when seeing good friends and especially young kids puffing away.
I’m an avid music fan, but subscribe to Rolling Stone not so much for the mediocre music coverage, but for the progressive, hard hitting, investigational journalism not found in other media.
So I was shocked at May’s Rolling Stone, with current hottie and pop-artist-du-jour Bruno Mars on the cover with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. How cool is that, right? A 27-year-old pop star with enough pancake makeup to make him look like a 16-year-old lesbian. Young, cool, butch, glamorous and slightly dangerous ¬– an image the tobacco industry has programmed into the American psyche for the past 90 years.
Bruno Mars’ target audience is teenage girls, the same market the tobacco industry is desperate to lure. Was the cigarette Bruno’s own bad idea?
Product placement has been around for years. Did Camel, which also has a two-page spread in the issue hawking its “Camel Crush” cigarettes, sign an advertising deal with the magazine contingent on having the teen heartthrob on the cover with their product between his lips? “Hey Bruno, we know you smoke – what if we throw in a few “little” bonuses for quietly endorsing our product?” Perfectly legal.
In the same issue is a feature, “25 Reasons to Be Excited about Rock Right Now.” The number one reason is British teen singer and songwriter Jake Bugg, pictured holding a cigarette, looking sexy with smoke flowing out of his nostrils. Meanwhile, the month before, Rolling Stone had Mad Man hunk John Hamm, aka Don Draper, on the cover with a guess-what in his mouth?
The tobacco industry – which is probably second in lobbying influence after guns, is in a panic right now. Although they have warded off requirements for graphic warning labels on cigarette packages (only 20 years behind countries like Canada and Australia), they see the writing on the wall.
The E cigarette (a smokeless nicotine delivery device), being promoted as a way to wean you off cigarettes, is really just a clever marketing plan to continue selling nicotine – one of the most addictive and harmful substances on the planet. With more smoking bans in public places in effect, be prepared to see the glow of these vaporizing devices everywhere.
With Joe Camel, the phallic-shaped cartoon character out of the picture (one of the few lawsuits they lost), the industry needs new ways of enticing their Number 1 target – your kids, aka, potential new smokers.
We all know the harmful and deadly effects of smoking and have seen the pictures of the blackened lungs and yet millions of people continue puffing, because a highly addictive substance cleverly marketed is a powerful combination.
I can only love and empathize with friends who are still struggling with this insidious drug. It’s a battle I know all too well.
As for Rolling Stone, unless they do an exposé on the deceptive advertising practices of the tobacco industry, guess who is not renewing his subscription?