Eric Lawson, one of the many actors who portrayed the iconic figure that promoted Marlboro cigarettes in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, died on January 10, 2014 of respiratory failure because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking.
He really did smoke Marlboro cigarettes, as many as three packs a day. In the past few years, he spoke out against the danger of smoking and urged kids not to start.
In print and billboard ads, the ruggedly handsome actor embodied the most powerful brand image of the century. The Marlboro Man stands worldwide as the ultimate American cowboy and masculine trademark that made Marlboro one of best-selling cigarette brands in the world.
Cigarette ads rely on alluring images of power, independence, coolness, prestige, success, vitality and sex appeal (both masculine and feminine) that are associated with smoking. Youth are particularly vulnerable because they’re not able to understand how the tobacco industry is manipulating them through advertising and marketing.
In 1971, TV and radio commercials for cigarettes were prohibited. The tobacco industry has always thrived off deception and clever marketing that recruit new smokers.
In 2006, a federal court ruled that the defendant tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes. They were ordered by the court to publish admissions of guilt and “corrective statements” regarding their false advertising and blatant lies.
U.S. consumers will most likely have to wait until next year to see the new advertising campaign. African American media outlets want the tobacco companies to run these ads in their publications because the black community has been disproportionately targeted by Big Tobacco and harmed by their lies.
I was reminded of Big Tobacco’s deceptive TV ads while watching an ad for NJOY King, an e-cigarette, during the Super Bowl. The commercial shows two men helping each other in situations like moving a couch up a flight of stairs or preventing a bar fight. When one man takes out a cigarette, his friend pulls it out of his hand and gives him an e-cigarette instead. The commercial says: “Friends don’t let friends smoke. Give him the only electronic cigarette worth switching to. The NJoy King. Cigarettes, you’ve met your match.”
That’s some slick misinformation. As we’ve stated before, e-cigarettes have not been proven to be a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy. Yet, the deception continues.
This kind of advertising should be banned by the Federal Drug & Food Administration, and both CBS and the NFL should not have aired the commercial.
I’m sure Eric Lawson would have agreed.