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"Winston Man" Blows Whistle on Tobacco Ads

Tobacco Insider
Tobacco Travesty
by Anthony DiSiena, D. C.
(Dr. DiSiena was one of my best chiropractic students in 1994 when he wrote this article, which is abridged and reprinted with his permission.)

"We don't smoke the crap. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the blacks and the stupid." This was how the R J. Reynolds executives responded to Dave Goerhtz's question of why they were not smoking. None of the tobacco executives smoke. They are aware of the deadly consequences of using their product as intended. In fact, those same tobacco executives do not allow smoking in their offices. It seems that they are familiar with the clear and present danger of second hand smoke.

Dave Goerlitz knows the tobacco industry well. He was the Winston Man for a number of years. He was paid well, $100,000 for twenty six days' work, to addict 5,000 United States children a day to smoking. Why 5,000? Simple, the tobacco companies need 5,000 kids to start smoking each day to replace the 1,200 US smokers that quit each day, and the smokers who die each day of nonsmoking related causes. The total number of US smokers lost per day to the tobacco industry is 5,000. The tobacco industry calls children replacement smokers. Of course selling tobacco to someone under 18 years old is illegal. Sting operations reveal that many stores sell tobacco to minors, and most vending machines do not check people's ages.

In his role as a model, Dave's job was cast to be a smoking GI Joe. In the advertisements Dave was pictured rappelling down mountains, flying helicopters, and lighting cigarettes under a jet's wing. Jet wings contain fuel tanks. Lighting a cigarette under highly flammable jet fuel would seem an extremely risky proposition to an adult. But to a teenage boy, the target of the advertisements, it is a macho thing to do. Most teenage boys want to be macho. Similar advertisements are directed to teenage girls in the Barbie doll image.

Dave points out advertising thrives on the dramatic, not the logical. The tobacco companies use advertisements better than any other industry in the world. In fact, the tobacco companies invested four billion dollars last year advertising their product in the United States alone. They use the cleverly designed "Camel Joe" to lure children. Camel Joe, an Alf-like character, was deliberately designed in the image of large male genitalia. This image is the reason why most teenage boys that smoke choose Camels.

The tobacco industry executives know that smoking during pregnancy causes the death of over 3,000 fetuses and causes babies to be born weighing only two to three pounds. They know children of parents who smoke are much more likely to develop asthma and leukemia than children of nonsmokers. Yet they deliberately cast a woman who was seven months pregnant in a tobacco advertisement. They clearly wanted to throw a smokescreen over the issue and thereby continue to increase their profits.

Cigarette smoke kills 450,000 a year in the US (50,000 of whom are nonsmokers).

Profits are the bottom line for the tobacco companies. The tobacco executives do not care about the millions of people around the world each year that their product is killing. The tobacco companies are ardently striving to increase tobacco consumption. But tobacco consumption has been decreasing in the United States. What did the tobacco companies do to increase production? With the aid of the United States government, the tobacco companies are aggressively marketing increasing amounts of tobacco sold abroad. The advertisements the tobacco companies use overseas are reminiscent of the advertisements they used in the US in the 1940s. At that time advertisements touted the health benefits of smoking even though tobacco executives knew the opposite was true. Of course no warning labels were printed on the packages. Since it costs only six cents to manufacture a pack of cigarettes, which sell for over $2.50 a pack (1994) in vending machines, the tobacco executives are obviously lining their pockets at record rates with this blood money.

Due to the decrease in cigarette consumption in the US many former smokers are able to share more happy events with their loved ones than if they had continued smoking. The people they associate with will also live longer lives. Today 120 nonsmokers per day will die in the US from the direct effects of inhaling second hand smoke. It is the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every third day. What would happen if 120 whales died of an oil slick every day? Would the public and the press be up in arms? 

The tobacco companies are doing a wonderful job of confusing the public.  I call on all public policy makers to show the RJR executives that although the USA contains "the young, the poor, and the blacks," the country does not contain "the stupid." I call on everyone to protect the lives of the nonsmokers by joining the rapidly expanding ranks of concerned institutions which already ban the use of this deadly drug.

(Remember: Tobacco kills EIGHT TIMES more Americans in one year than the Viet Nam War did in ten years.)


Andrew Saul, PhD

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