Why the tobacco industry targets children

World renowned speaker and activitst Jean Kilbourne, EdD shares on why the tobacco industry targets children and teenagers and the negative impacts of these messages for people all around the world.
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Why the tobacco industry targets children

Many people don't realize how incredibly harmful tobacco is. They often tend to see tobacco perhaps as less dangerous than other drugs. The truth is that nicotine is more addictive than heroin or cocaine and it's much harder to quit. It's also the case that smoking kills more Americans every year than alcohol, cocaine, heroin, fires, car crashes, homicide, suicide and AIDS combined. This is over 440,000 deaths every year just in our country. Second hand smoke alone kills about 60,000 Americans. It can be very lethal just to breathe in other people's smoke and is particularly dangerous to children. Second hand smoke is related to asthma, of course, bronchitis, but it's also related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other problems. So it's extraordinarily important that children not be exposed to tobacco smoke ever, at all. Now, the tobacco industry really is interested in children because most smokers start when they're very, very young. 90% of all smokers start smoking before they're 18, 60% start before high school. If you don't start smoking when you're very young, you won't start smoking. Hardly anyone decides at the age of 30 to become a smoker. So the tobacco industry is interested in targeting children. They have to get 3,000 children to start smoking every single day just to replace those smokers who die or quit. A thousand smokers die every day, two thousand smokers quit, and they need children to replace them. So they use all kinds of things in their ads. Cartoon characters, gear, all sorts of stuff, websites, online things to appeal to children because they know that if they don't get them starting smoking when they're very young, they're not gonna get them at all.
TEEN, Substance Use, Tobacco Use

World renowned speaker and activitst Jean Kilbourne, EdD shares on why the tobacco industry targets children and teenagers and the negative impacts of these messages for people all around the world.


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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses...

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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