To date, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the world. It is estimated that nearly 20% of the worlds population use cigarettes with 80% of this population being men. Most of these deaths occur in low or middle-income economies. So many campaigns against this social ill have been organized, but they have produced given mixed results. Printed materials and banners have proved to make a reasonable impact. However, the mass media, as many results from research shows, seems to be the most effective in campaigning both for it and against it.
The media has a powerful influence on smoking, especially among the youth, and on any other matter that concerns the public. This has been the greatest problem that the government is being pressurized by the public health sector to make efforts and respond to its impacts appropriately. For example, the government has enacted policies to ensure that all movies and programs being viewed by the public are right for them- they do not contain scenes that are likely to erode their morals.
When characters are featured smoking they associate this behavior with toughness, sexiness or rebelliousness characters that they find appealing to them due to adolescence. Exposure to various films that feature characters smoking such as the popular, Mona Lisa Smile and Uptown Girls make them think that smoking is cool and chill. In most cases, film producers and actors get paid by tobacco companies to have their brand of the product featured in the movie. This is called product placement
As the media continue to expand, so does the number of youths and adults who to smoke increases. About 4,000 youngsters worldwide get to have the first puff of cigarette each day. Research shows that that despite the fact that featuring of characters using cigarettes is prohibited, the rate at which the characters are featured smoking has increased by a 50%. For example in the 1970s and 1980s, characters would be featured smoking every ten to fifteen minutes while later in 1999, and 2000 characters would be seen smoking after every two to three minutes. This impacts the mind of many that smoking is a social norm giving a blind eye to the adverse effects that come along with this behavior.
Apart from the movies, the youths are also so much into the music entertainments. Most artists who are popular among the teens will also be featured smoking in the backlight. This further develops their acquired ideology that smoking is related to greatness. Pictures of renowned people featured in social media smoking also affect most teenagers who are known to be the majority users of various social media. For example the latest research by a group of researchers from the University of Southern California showed that most of the youths who view these photos whether found online or posted by their friends who had been partying end up trying it themselves.
Typically any tobacco advertisement featured in the media worldwide will be based on three themes: Its taste, freshness and its mild stimulation. These harmonizes the anxiety of the users and thus they are able to get smoking. The target population of these adverts is usually men, youths, and women. A good percentage of the populations exposed to such adverts prove to start smoking in thirty months.
On the first part of this essay, I have focused on how the media influences the public towards smoking. You can now base the second part on how the media can be used to campaign against smoking.
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