The Marlboro Man versus Kool and Newport Menthol and Virginia Slims

October 30, 2023 by Joshua
in Addiction

News pieces about Kool and Newport cigarette brands targeting blacks tend to portray the brands and their advertising as nefarious and racist.

A quick search found stories like How the tobacco industry targeted Black Americans with menthol smokes, Why Big Tobacco Targeted Blacks With Ads for Menthol Cigarettes, Study: Newport Marketed Cigarettes Directly to Black Kids, and Newport, the top cigarette brand for black Americans, is aggressively targeting youths.

Maybe I’m misreading those implications, but they seem there. A person in this video calls it exploitation and this video calls it predatory.

Likewise, Philip Morris: How Virginia Slims Targeted Women to Sell Cigarettes describes marketing targeting women as sexist.

I don’t see the implications of nefariousness, racism, or sexism in Marlboro marketing to young white men, yet it’s targeted toward young men. I mean, he’s called a “Marlboro Man.”

I see problems with all tobacco advertising. If we accept advertising tobacco, I can see problems with targeting children, with their limited education, self-awareness, and ability to regulate their behavior, but how is differentiating adults and marketing to different groups a problem for some groups but not others? I’m sure there’s an answer I’m too ignorant to see. Or is targeting men portrayed as sexist as much?

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