Reasons for Smoking


Why do teenagers continue lighting up when they know the consequences? Surprisingly, advertising is largely attributed to teenage smoking. Cigarettes are advertised more heavily than any product except cars (Guttman, 27). Many cigarette advertisements take place in gorgeous and fun locations. To get closer to these exciting locations, teenagers might feel the need to purchase that product.
Teenagers claim that advertisements do not directly influence their decision to smoke. Yet, when they do eventually decide to smoke they chose one of the most advertised brands. At least eighty-five percent of teen smokers surveyed in 1993 purchased Marlboro, Camel or Newport--the three bands that led the industry in advertising spending that year (Guttman, 27).

Look and listen to national and state print ads, tv ads, and radio ads.
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Everybody's Doing It

A second factor contributing to teen smoking is the everybody’s doing it philosophy. During those early teenage years, kids are desperately trying to fit in and be cool. Most kids think they are invincible and they cannot become addicted to cigarettes. For this reason, some teenagers decide to join in the smoking crowd. It is much easier to give in to peer pressure when you are at an age where you are not sure what you want. Also most teenagers are not concerned with the long term effects of anything, even if premature death is a consequence.


For some teenagers, smoking might mean independence. One of the main developmental tasks of adolescence is to assert independence from one’s parents by construction of one’s own identity. Marlboro had successfully exploited that need for years with its cowboy alone on the range. A Virgina Slims campaign once claimed that the cigarette was as free-spirited as you (Roberts, 38).

Weight Control

Lastly, weight control is a major issue among teenage girls and is it exemplified in cigarette advertisements. Misty's cigarettes are slim and sassy. A Virginia Slims ad says, "If I ran the world, calories wouldn’t count" (Roberts, 38). The models in the advertisements are extremely thin wearing fashionable clothes. Even the cigarettes themselves are extra slender. Fashion and celebrity magazines help promote an ultra-slim beauty ideal by carrying plenty of cigarette advertising. Yet, they rarely speak out editorially about the dangers of smoking. Teenagers are only given the so called positive side of smoking in advertisements. They are never shown what tobacco does to their heart and lungs.

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Created by: Tracy Lynn Wise