Joe Camel Meets Pink Think: Will the FDA rule?

camel2.jpg“It strains the imagination that this is not aimed at anyone other than 15-, 16-, 17-year-old girls,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in today’s fuming brouhaha over whether the FDA should regulate tobacco products. (note the NYTimes adjacent photo & pithy feature)

Josephine Camel seems to be taking on sleek black leather stiletto heels and sexy hot pink glamorama gussying, even being promoted as “light and luscious. ”

It’s the femme niche dynamic Shaping Youth Advisory Board members Dr. Sharon Brown and Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown described in their book, Packaging Girlhood, which talked about the “pink wars” where girls are relegated to ‘bad girl diva’ hotties or ‘pastel princess’ cuties. Now we have a toxic cigarette choice for each stereotype.

Recall the provocative innocence of Pink Dreams we wrote about earlier which got the “pencil as cigarette” schoolgirl treatment? Sheesh. What’s next, tattooed cigs targeting rocker chick teens with a free piercing promo?

R.J. Reynolds’ No.9 mirroring of Chanel No. 19 perfume just goes to show how hard brands are working to sell kids coffin nails as if they were chic perfume packets at Bloomie’s.

Tobacco Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and others tout a historic opportunity to give the FDA specific regulatory authority and legislative jurisdiction to tighten major loopholes that protect Big Tobacco.

Their stance is that deadly, disease causing substances should be subject to tough regulations and scrutiny. Instead, cigarettes are the LEAST regulated, exempt from basic health protections that the FDA applies to dog food and mac-n-cheese.

Reports show teen smoking decline has stalled, nicotine levels have increased, and tobacco companies are seizing the window of opportunity to target kids and hook ’em hard.

Some opposed to S.625 & H.R. 1108 are saying the FDA affiliation is confusing, and makes it seem like there’s a ‘sanctioning/seal of approval’ context.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said, “The FDA approves cures, not poisons,” adding

And it’s a given that advertisers are not pleased…

Ad Age said this bill would allow the FDA to “immediately impose the draconian marketing curbs” offered by the former commissioner a decade ago, which eludes to the threat of alcohol and junk food advertising being next, so they’ll no doubt drag out the old ‘free speech’ commercial flag flapping big time.

Since I’m watching direct correlations of media and marketing’s impact on kids in the daily logs of the brains and bodies of elementary schoolers, I can speak from experience that we’re literally killing kids with DEregulation ‘freedom’ to chow down on sugary slop and foil-pouched crud.

I guess I no longer consider curbing ads ‘draconian’ when it comes to public health and children, since the masses appear too dense to restrict via their own purchasing power.

I’m no fan of regulation OR bureaucracy, but direct targeting of kids for profit with products that are killing them in ANY product sector is NOT okay.

When advertisers target, they rarely miss; even a branding bullet that grazes leaves an indelible mark.

And this one’s a no-brainer…Kids should not be in the crosshairs of a toxic marketing scope. Period.

I took a closer look at the bill to see specifically what’s at stake for the advertisers and where they’ll wail the loudest…

Seems Senator Kennedy’s bill would preclude snazzy subversive children’s marketing like this Camel campaign, along with ‘candy-flavored’ cigarettes. (fruity, trendy, ‘starter’ sticks that ad to the headcount of the 1000 kids a day lighting up for life, not to be confused with those fake sugary things from yesteryear)

Regulations would also ban free samples, outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of schools or playgrounds, cigarette promo tchotchkes and giveaways on hats and tees and tighten sales to minors with stiffer penalties and limited vending machine access.

Finally, it would limit cigarette sponsorships of athletic, musical or social events to corporate names only, and ads to black & white. (called ‘tombstones’ in ad parlance, very fittingly macabre)

On the FDA labeling side, the bill would outlaw reduced health risk terms like “light”, “mild” and “low-tar” that mislead consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer than others, and rein in “less harmful” claims.

On the product side, tobacco companies would be pressured to decrease nicotine, reveal all toxins and put more of those large lame warnings everywhere.

I find it sadly ironic that we’re holding the FDA as a ‘tightened’ hoop to jump through when they falter regularly already, allowing ‘all natural’ junk food claims and nutrition labels so confusing you need an MIT intern and a calculator to tally the portion distortion alone.

Seems like a colossal FDA ‘blind leading the blind’ paper chase to me, but I suppose it’s a start.

As for tobacco companies, it’s ALL just smoke and haze as usual:

Altria and Philip Morris are proponents of the bill (since they’ve already enacted many of the marketing curbs and are sitting pretty in a number one spot) and R.J.Reynolds is crying foul because they’re the ‘challenger brand’ so imposing stricter limits would pose a hardship.

AND…Tobacco giants have already gone back on their word not to fight smoke-free laws; even though there’s increasing evidence that second-hand smoke is harmful.

In short count on one thing:

Advertisers and toxic marketers will always be concerned about regulatory harm on their various products and divisions…

...Yet they don’t give a rat’s patooie about the harmful impact on kids’ health and well-being.



  1. Sounds like corporate social responsibility is simply a buzzword for their annual report.

  2. You got that right, Andy…sigh.

    Amy Jussel’s last blog post..Doug Engelbart Supports Shaping Youth By Offering Digital History

  3. Somebody ought to slap all you liberal whiners. Do the country a big favor.

  4. Well, Jason, other than free flow name calling, (ahem, I’m an equal opportunity writer as I’ve also been called a ‘conservative whiner’ and ‘right wing prude’ too if that suits you?) Curious though…it makes me wonder what ‘favors’ you’ve done for our country? Invest in the tobacco industry perhaps? Lobby for universal deregulation despite public health cost? Do tell!
    .-= Amy Jussel´s last blog ..Ads Get Lost in The Fray, REVERB Rocks The Eco-Concert Scene =-.

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