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A strong visual

May 14, 2010

A proposal by the Massachusetts state Department of Public Health is calling for stores that sell cigarettes to prominently display posters of some very graphic images that show the effects of smoking -diseased lungs, rotted teeth and damaged brains.

Could these practices be effective?  Jennifer Ibrahim, an associate professor of public health in the College of Health Professions and Social Work, says that attitudes are changing as the public is becoming more aware about the dangers of smoking, secondhand smoke and the deceptive practices of the industry.

Ibrahim has studied the marketing efforts of both the tobacco industry and anti-smoking advocates, and said that state health departments face an uphill battle when dealing with the industry’s political clout through lobbying, campaign contributions and specials events.

In a 2007 study, Ibrahim found that the tobacco industry has spent millions of dollars attempting to quash anti-smoking ads that reveal its “deceptive practices.”  In addition to powerful political allies, Ibrahim says the tobacco industry has also resorted to launching its own campaigns – albeit ineffective ones – to show that anti-smoking ads are repetitive and wasteful.

“Vigilance is important though, because the tobacco industry will continue to adapt marketing efforts to overcome anti-smoking efforts,” Ibrahim said.


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