Tobacco Companies Glamorize their Deadly Product

Tobacco companies will spend over $73 million promoting cigarettes in Maine this year – and they’re targeting kids. Big Tobacco is talking to our kids every day: in convenience stores, in magazines, online, and through special promotions designed to lure them into thinking that smoking is cool or a way to express their independence.

Big Tobacco is actively capturing data about their young targets. They know their taste in music and fashion, what products their future customers might prefer, and how to reach them. Youngsters are highly influenced by retail store promotions, and almost half of all Maine high school students report experimenting with smoking.

On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kesseler issued a federal opinion in the federal government’s lawsuit against major tobacco companies. It was found that the tobacco companies violated civil racketeering laws, defrauded the American public by lying over decades about the health risks of tobacco, did market to children, and continue to deceive the public by “recruiting new smokers, preventing current smokers from quitting, and thereby sustaining the industry”.

Tobacco in the movies and on television is portrayed as fun, exciting, sexy, rebellious or connected to wealth and power. That reinforces common advertising themes of the tobacco industry and increases youth smoking. When tobacco use is viewed as normal, it implies that smoking is acceptable and is another factor in encouraging young people to use tobacco. When leading actors light up or make anti-tobacco statements, it sends a powerful message to young people about tobacco use.

Regardless of the intent, putting tobacco into the hands of the “bad guy” may also encourage teenage tobacco use. However, when anti-tobacco messages are included in movies or on TV, it has the opposite impact and may discourage young people from starting to smoke. Scene Smoking is raising the awareness of smoking in the movies.

Cigarette companies increased their spending on point-of-sale marketing by almost $19 million between 2004 and 2005, and spent the bulk of their marketing dollars (81% or $10.6 billion) on strategies that facilitated retail sales, such as price discounts and ensuring prime retail space. In addition to advertising, tobacco companies’ point-of-purchase promotional expenditures and “retail value-added” expenditures include coupons, multipack discounts for which retailers are reimbursed, providing free gifts with cigarette or spit tobacco purchases, and other tobacco discounts and merchandising given to customers at the sales outlets. Point-of-purchase promotional expenditures also include company payments to retailers to display the company’s brands, ads, and related materials prominently or in specific store locations. Retailers are often paid to keep special tobaccoproduct self-serve display racks on or in front of the counter, paid to put tobacco products on “good” shelving space, and given other promotional items for the store, such as open signs and counter mats – things often coordinated with current advertising campaigns.

The tobacco industry also misleads customers with their campaigns. Televised antismoking ads sponsored by tobacco companies and targeted at youth do not change smoking outcomes. In fact, recent studies show that tobacco industry-sponsored prevention as intended for parents may have harmful effects on older youth. Moreover, tobacco companies rely on anti-smoking messages to be undone when young adults adopt adult behaviours.

Adapted from www.tobaccofreemaine.org


Exercise 1

Find the words or expressions in the text which mean the following:

1) to direct your marketing strategy at a particular group: __________
2) legal action: __________
3) dishonest or fraudulent business dealings: __________
4) to trick somebody: __________
5) a large part or proportion of something: __________
6) to make something easier: __________
7) to refund the costs: __________
8) visibly: __________
9) a place in a store which is not attended to by staff: ___________
10)to cheat somebody: __________
11)a lowered price: __________
12)an aspect of something that may influence somebody’s decision: __________


Exercise 2

Match the expressions from the two columns into logical collocations:

1) to capture                           promotions
2) retail store                         an industry
3) to issue                               awareness of something
4) to violate                            data about somebody
5) to sustain                           an opinion
6) to raise                               a law
7) point-of-sale                     added
8) value                                  outlet
9) prime                                 retail space
10)a sales                               marketing


Exercise 3

Provide English equivalents of these expressions:

1) placówka sprzedażowa
2) zwrócić koszty
3) wartość dodana
4) podnieść poziom świadomości
5) atrakcyjne umiejscowienie na półkach w sklepie
6) motyw reklamowy
7) promować
8) naruszyć przepis prawa
9) działania marketingowe w punkcie styczności z klientem
10)ułatwić coś
11)zorganizowana działalność przestępcza



Grammar corner…

Big Tobacco is talking to our kids every day: in convenience stores, in magazines, online, and through special promotions. You found this sentence in the text. You have probably learned a while back that when things happen every day, well, they HAPPEN and not ARE HAPPENING, right? So why did the author use this tense in this context? There are other
uses of the present tenses than the ones you’ve been usually taught.

For instance:

Present Continuous is used to express annoyance: You’re always misplacing my stuff!

Present Continuous is also used for talking about fixed future plans: I’m flying to the US next month, I can’t wait!

Present Simple is used to talk about about timetables and schedules: The train to Bradford leaves at 5.00 p.m.

Present Simple is also used for dramatic effect: Lewandowski passes to Glik and Glik


Exercise 4

Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verb:

1) Why _________________________ (CRITICIZE) my sister?! It’s so annoying!
2) The next flight to LA _________________________ (LEAVE) at 3.00. a.m. so you’ll have to wait a bit.
3) Could you please let me pass through security? My flight _________________________ (LEAVE) right now!
4) So, you’re never gonna believe this, I _________________________ (WALK) in the forrest, _________________________ (MIND) my own business, and suddenly this huge bear _________________________ (JUMP) out of nowhere! I was terrified.
5) I _________________________ (FLY) to Bali next Saturday. Finally time for a holiday.
6) He _________________________ (ALWAYS MAKE) fun of my weight, I can’t stand it anymore.
7) Rich people usually _________________________ (NOT SPEND) much on their whims and fancies.
8) I _________________________ (DRIVE) so I can’t talk on the phone right now, I’ll call you later.



to misplace something – zapodziać coś gdzieś
whims and fancies – widzimisię
a lawsuit – pozwe
racketeering – zorganizowana działalność przestępcza
a bulk of something – gros czegoś
to facilitate something – ułatwić coś
to reimburse costs – zwrócić koszty
a factor – czynnik
to capture something – przejąć coś / przechwycić coś
to issue a decision – wydać decyzję
to violate a law – naruszyć przepis prawa
point of sale – punkt styczności z klientem
value added – wartość dodana
prime retail space – atrakcyjne umiejscowienie w punkcie sprzedaży detalicznej
an advertising theme – motyw reklamowy
a discount – zniżka
prominently – w widoczny sposób / w widocznym miejscu
to sustain something – utrzymać coś
a sales outlet – placówka sprzedaży detalicznej
to light up – odpalić (np. papierosa, skręta)


download lesson (pdf)



Ex. 1
1) to target somebody
2) a lawsuit
3) racketeering
4) to defraud somebody
5) a bulk of something
6) to facilitate something
7) to reimburse something
8) prominently
9) self-serve
10)to deceive somebody
11)a discount
12)a factor

Ex. 2
1) to capture data about somebody
2) retail store promotions
3) to issue an opinion
4) to violate a law
5) to sustain an industry
6) to raise awareness of something
7) point-of-sale marketing
8) value added
9) prime retail space
10)a sales outlet

Ex. 3
1) a sales outlet
2) to reimburse costs
3) value added
4) to raise awareness
5) good shelving space
6) an advertising theme
7) to merchandise
8) to violate a law
9) point-of-sale marketing
10)to facilitate something

Ex. 4
1) are you always criticizing
2) leaves
3) is leaving
4) walk
5) mind
6) jumps
7) am flying
8) is always making
9) don’t spend
10)am driving