Though there is plenty of evidence that supports the claim that tobacco advertising leads children away from smoke free lifestyles, there are still many skeptics, and many are not card-carrying members of Big Tobacco. For example, a lot has been done, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, to eradicate the power of tobacco advertising, and still smoking is on the rise. The skeptics of tobacco advertising’s influence on children are correct that advertising is not the only factor in keeping children smoke free; it is up to parents and educators to talk to kids about the dangers of tobacco use, and to be good role models themselves by refraining from smoking in front of their children. A parent’s influence is more powerful than any advertisement. Additionally, remaining smoke free is ultimately a choice that each individual must face, a choice not to engage in the bad habit, but instead choose a smoke free lifestyle.
Therefore, it is important to combine restrictions on tobacco advertising with personal responsibility-both contribute to the delicate balance of influencing children to remain smoke free. A big part of keeping children smoke free is to attack tobacco’s advertising capabilities. Children have malleable minds that are easily shaped by external influences; they soak them up like a sponge, storing up the behaviors and habits that will characterize their adult life. Thus, children are much more responsive to images, cartoons, and advertising campaigns than are adults. For as long as tobacco has been advertising, they have associated smoking with independence, sophistication, beauty, and fun. While these concepts primarily target teens and adults, children are often left absorbing, consciously or unconsciously, that smoke free is not the way to be if you want to be in the in-crowd orachieve success.
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