IT’S COOL to smoke.

The young are bombarded with this idea whenever ads of a cowboy or a man with gorgeous women are seen lighting up on TV.

Young people are being targeted by cigarette ads more than adults. Based on a US study, 86 per cent of people who smoke the three most heavily advertised brands (Marlboro, Camel, and Newport) are of ages 25 and below.

As more adults smoke less or even break free from the habit, tobacco industries are exerting double efforts to lure the youth by adding more appeal to the brand, until the urge to use it is overwhelming.

About 3,000 new smokers are “recruited” everyday, or more than one million new smokers a year. The same number of people dies of tobacco-related diseases yearly.

Although the ads talk of independence, boldness, and adventure for the present generation, the power of advertising, especially on television, is harnessed only for one thing — to sell the product to the youth. Expanded marketing efforts of the tobacco industry link smoking to fashion, beauty, masculinity, glamour, and even slimness, all of which do not have scientific basis.

But surely, what these ads have is a direct effect on the growing number of smokers.

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