What's Relevant to Today's Smoker

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Using Guilt as a Marketing Tool
In cigarette product liability trials, tobacco industry attorneys often rely upon the defense that "everyone knows" the dangers of smoking. What the industry attorneys don't reveal, however, are cigarette companies' marketing efforts aimed at alleviating the guilt consumers feel, that is associated with their continued use of a product known to endanger their and their loved ones' lives. Left alone, it is likely that such feelings of guilt and concern for heath would lead more smokers to quit. This, however, is something the cigarette companies want to prevent.

The document What's Relevant to Today's Smoker, shows how cigarette makers sought to alleviate smokers' guilt about their continued use of cigarettes, and turn smokers' feelings of guilt and need for self-denial over cigarettes into marketing opportunities. This marketing document from the Philip Morris collection discusses potential new products, the design and marketing of which could be tailor-made to present "new ways to alleviate guilt feelings" about the product. The aim is, in effect, to turn guilt over use of the product into a marketing advantage.

In one example, the document proposes a brand of cigarettes called "Allot," which would be sold in packs of twelve and cost less than a dollar. It states that the "low price and fewer cigarettes in pack helps alleviate guilt and support need for self denial."

Another brand, called "Lite," would be aimed at younger female smokers and would be "a low tar 100mm cigarette which would act as an appetite suppressant" to "alleviate the guilt associated with smoking as a negative activity and fear of being out of control...[it] compensates for fear of gaining weight when reducing number of cigarettes consumed. A drawback is this would likely become a part-time brand for most users, few would want to suppress their appetite 20 times daily."

Another brand, called "Rush," which would contain caffeinated tobacco, would be aimed at young males who are "defiant to social pressures ... deny health concerns ...[and who are] not adverse to risk." The product's marketing would reinforce "smoking as a positive/daring experience ..." and would portray smoking as "[a] stimulating energizing activity for the person on-the-go, who is 'need driven' and defiant to risk/social pressures."

Even if these brands were never actually manufactured, this document shows the thought processes of the people who market cigarettes, their intent to play on human feelings to generate profit, and the basic disregard for human health and safety that underlies cigarette advertising.

This document was found using the search criteria "alleviate guilt" on the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. [1]

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  1. Philip Morris What's Relevant to Today's Smoker Market research report. 12 pp. 1986. Bates No. 2044364192/4203