Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Should Tobacco Advertising be Banned ?

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The issue of whether we should ban tobacco advertising had been widely debated in our community recently. It is an important issue because it concerns the way that we deal with the health and social questions related to tobacco. A variety of different arguments have been put forward. After considering both the advantages and disadvantages of banning tobacco advertising, I conclude that tobacco advertising should not be banned.

First of all, the question regarding the banning of tobacco advertising is what do people really want to ban? Is it tobacco or tobacco advertising? Each ban should have its own purpose and particular objective. Obviously, the aim of banning tobacco advertising is to reduce smoking because tobacco is made from poisonous materials and it is harmful to health. For this purpose we can see, the objective of the ban should be tobacco but not tobacco advertising. In any case tobacco advertising is just a promotional conduct, it would not damage society and people’s health directly. Strangely, on the one hand people allow tobacco companies to continue to sell their products, on the other hand people are planning to ban tobacco advertising even though they know that tobacco advertising exists for tobacco but tobacco does not exist for tobacco advertising. It seems that tobacco advertising has become a victim of people’s infirmity of purpose in banning tobacco. ( good point )

A frequently heard objection to tobacco advertising is that the tobacco advertising is probably a major cause of the large number of adolescent smokers. Since adolescents are in the phase when they are curious for novelties, there is a slight possibility that tobacco advertising might have been a small factor in the increasing number of adolescent smokers. However, it should also be noticed that a movie star smoking in a popular movie has more effects on adolescents than any other advertising. What is more, it cannot explain the increasing number of adult smokers. They are supposed to be aware of their conduct. Tobacco advertising is not able to influence them much. A survey conducted in 11 shows a significant contrast between Norway where tobacco advertising had been banned and Britain where tobacco advertising still continued. The result was interesting in a similar period the smoking rate increase in Norway was higher than that in Britain. It is obvious that a ban on tobacco advertising does not reduce smoking sufficiently. The more important reasons for tobacco consumption are “ peer pressure, curiosity, parental example and other socio-economic circumstances”. Tobacco advertising can be repressed but people’s desire can not be suppressed. The restriction on tobacco advertising will never succeed until other related social and living problems are solved.

Another argument against banning tobacco advertising is that the restriction is a “threat to freedom of speech and freedom to trade”. It will stifle the free competition among different industries. Similar to other businesses, the tobacco industry obeys all the trade regulations and has fulfilled all its obligations. The only reason it is blamed is because the tobacco may cause some diseases. However, the automobiles also cause accidents. Should we get rid of automobiles? The chemical industry is also a major cause of pollution; should we close all these factories? It is arbitrary that people restrict the development of the tobacco industry yet other industries are expanding. In addition, each product exists in the market for its own reasons. Tobacco satisfies people’s demands and people need it to release stress or for other reasons. Banning tobacco advertising could generate other products tailored to people’s desires. These could be more harmful and more indirect. The free market has its own competitive regulations and it should not be forced to change.

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What is more, there is a very serious economic problem that may result from the ban on tobacco advertising. As everyone knows, tobacco companies are one of the major customers of journals. It has been predicted that the proposed bans and restrictions would lose between £ million and £4 million advertising revenues of British newspapers. Magazines and advertising posters would also be hit so hard that “it would take companies more than five years to win sufficient business to make up the loss and replace the lost revenues”. Some supporters of bans contend that other businesses would replace tobacco companies and the lost revenues would be gained back. The question is if those businesses are really able to compensate the loss, where are they right now? ( good point ) Furthermore, the taxes on tobacco and the media are two of the main financial sources of a nation. When these two industries’ revenues are reduced, there would also be a resultant decrease in national finances. Thus, it is doubtful whether an ineffective restriction is worth the huge financial loss.

Finally, the tobacco consumer’s rights should also be considered. Those people have paid extra tax for their consumption. To be fair they should have the same rights as other consumers. Since the government permit tobacco to be sold, tobacco products are the same as other common products. The tobacco consumers are the same as other consumers. After tobacco consumers paying exorbitant duties, they have the right to watch tobacco advertising and to receive information about tobacco products.

In conclusion, for all of the reasons above, tobacco advertising should not be banned. However, the objection to banning tobacco advertising does not mean supporting tobacco industry. Undoubtedly, tobacco is harmful to people’s health. To deal with this problem we should be patient to put forward an ideal solution but not through a simple ban……..

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