Long gone are the days when the tobacco industry could try to entice Canadians to smoke with sophisticated, attractive commercials and advertisements. Instead, stringent marketing restrictions have stopped tobacco companies from publicly marketing themselves to young people for over 50 years. But that doesn't mean they haven't gotten to you.

The tobacco industry is dominated by a handful of large companies who, despite advertising bans, operate across the world making large profits from marketing to youths. Some organizations out there have dedicated themselves to exposing the truth about those companies and the tobacco industry in general, though, so that the public has a chance at making an informed and balanced choice regarding whether or not they want to smoke. Here are seven strategies they use to outsmart you:


Colourful packaging

The use of colour in marketing has long been used as a persuasion strategy. Tobacco companies use specific colouring on their packaging and labelling to diminish health concerns, communicate branding and to replace prohibited descriptive words like ‘light’ and ‘mild’ to make misleading claims about reduced risks.


Social media

According to an investigation led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kid, the four largest tobacco companies are recruiting and incentivizing young social media influencers to promote their cigarette brands in more than 40 countries - without disclosing that they financed the content. 


Celebrities and film

With stringent tobacco advertisement restrictions, it's become increasingly difficult for the tobacco industry to expose young adults to images or commercials of people smoking. Films, however, is one place where it is widespread. Films give the tobacco industry a global opportunity to market a product that kills 6 million people a year. As much as $950 million can be profited each year as a result of new smokers influenced to start by films they have watched, and teenagers whose favourite stars smoke are up to 16 times more likely to think favourably of smoking. 


LGBTQ marketing

In America, LGBT people are about two times more likely than straight people to take up smoking. The tobacco industry knows this and works hard to ensure it continues by targetting the LGBT community. Big tobacco companies have increased cigarette sales by sponsoring events, ads, bar promotions, and giveaways. They've also sponsored pride events and given money to LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations.


Leveraging science

For more than 50 years, tobacco companies have been leveraging modern science to make cigarettes more addictive. One way they've done this is by loading them with chemical compounds like bronchodilators, which were added so that tobacco smoke can more easily enter the lungs, and sugars, menthol and flavours to increase the harshness of smoke. Ammonia was added so that nicotine travels to the brain faster. Experts found that Big Tobacco companies genetically engineered their tobacco crops to contain two times the amount of nicotine.


Using e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking

A recent University of Michigan study revealed that e-cigarette use may act as a bridge to regular tobacco use. The study showed that teens who vape are four times more likely to start smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes within a year of smoking e-cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes have a relatively low smoke output and are believed to be relatively “safe” in comparison to traditional cigarettes, teenagers are often “desensitization” to the dangers of tobacco smoking.

What's more, the electronic cigarette market is increasingly dominated by cigarette manufacturers.


Omitting the facts

Did you know that tobacco products contain over 7,000 chemicals including many carcinogens? What about, if smoking was eliminated in Quebec, the equivalent of one-third of hospital beds in the province would be freed. Or, the tobacco industry’s products claim over 7 million victims around the world each year and every hour, tobacco kills one smoker in Quebec. The tobacco industry tends to omit the truth. 

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Canadian company DeFacto aims to tell the unfiltered truth by using unconventional messages to reveal the compelling truth about the tobacco industry and its products, as opposed to targeting tobacco consumption among individuals.

To learn more, visit DeFacto's website.

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