Nicotine pushers blatantly target teenagers with cigarette advertising that promises the good life but instead delivers death.
And those who still swallow the tobacco industry's denials that it does precisely that are tragically wrong.Sure, there still are some chowderheads around who naively hope the cigarettes they smoke can't kill them. Most of them are old enough to know better.
But if such ignorance is tragic, it is outrageous for an industry to defend advertising campaigns that lure youngsters into an addiction that can kill, too often slowly and agonizingly.
Dr. James Todd, a senior official of the American Medical Association, minces not a word in saying why cigarette companies entice youngsters into an addiction that can be fatal.
"If they don't replace the 390,000 smokers who die each year, the total number of smokers declines," Todd says.
So, as it always is, the bottom line is numbers.
In this case, the industry's profits are large enough to command big bucks for the advertising to protect them.
The AMA supports a ban on all cigarette advertising, Todd says, noting wryly that "free speech has not died in this country" since cigarette commercials were banned on television in 1971.
A Camels ad in the current issue of Rolling Stone features a cartoon character's "fool-proof dating advice," including "always have plenty of Camels ready when the beach party begins."
For buying three packs of Parliament Lights, Philip Morris is offering a free compact disc featuring such groups as Cheap Trick, Eddie Money and the Hooters.
Claims of the industry to the contrary notwithstanding, such ads and promotions clearly are aimed at teenagers. Anyone who doubts that just fell off the turnip truck.
Consider this. A teenage boy pores over an ad in which a beautiful wet-haired woman wearing a swim suit smokes while reclining provocatively atop a package of More cigarettes.
"I'm More satisfied," she says.
That ad could convince a healthy 18-year-old youth never to leave home without a pack of butts.
He also should not leave home without a condom, which could save his life or someone else's.
But that kid needs to know those cigarettes can kill him.