Project Filter 
Member since Feb 9, 2011


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Re: “Mail and Commentary February 9, 2011

Project Filter’s continuing issue with BW running SNUS ads, as I stated before, has partly to do with the contradiction between BW’s stated mission “to contribute to the well-being of the community” and that of RJ Reynolds, which is to make millions by addicting new customers and keeping their existing ones. Yes, it offends our sensibilities that BW continues to run these ads. In no way, however, does Project Filter want to insult the intelligence and independent-mindedness of BW’s readers.

For decades, numerous studies have shown that media and advertising does influence individuals to use and to start using tobacco products (much like the way they influence people to purchase a type of soda or sneaker). If this were not the case, I can’t imagine that tobacco companies (or Nike) would spend the millions they do each year to advertise their products. A very recent study found that media, peer influence, and secondhand smoke exposure were the most important factors influencing smoking initiation and were common to all racial/ethnic groups in that study. Here’s the reference: Peers, Tobacco Advertising, and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Influences Smoking Initiation in Diverse Adolescents. American Journal of Health Promotion 2011 25:3, e1-e11.

Above all, these SNUS ads do nothing but promote a continued addiction to nicotine. RJR’s claim that switching to snus as a way to get people to stop smoking is just false. There is no data to support that statement. This nationwide SNUS campaign of theirs is well-funded and intense. Big tobacco knows that SNUS appeals to teens in school because the product can be hidden from sight. But if you read the posts on Facebook, snus is not substituting for a smoking habit. Do a search on Camel Snus or Snus and you’ll discover that the product’s ability to go undetected is exactly why it’s so appealing to youth while they’re in school.

Yes, BW needs to run a business, but it’s disheartening that this is how they’re staying in business. Keep in mind: Tobacco companies spend $58 million a year marketing their unhealthy products in Idaho. And Idahoans spend $319 million a year to cover the healthcare costs of smoking-related illnesses.

We understand that BW is in the business to keep their publication on the newstands, but their long-standing publishing of articles addressing other important health-related and social justice issues run smack into conflict with their choice of this advertiser. Project Filter’s role as a state public health agency is to continue to speak out against the harmful effects of tobacco. We’re not overzealous, but we certainly are passionate about the work we do.

Posted by Project Filter on 02/09/2011 at 5:30 PM

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