Is This Marlboro Country?

Advertising tricks fool smokers about cigarette safety

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The Marlboro man's rugged, macho cowboy image certainly did sell a lot of cigarettes. He had men thinking, "Let's move to Austin, get on a horse and buy some cigarettes."

Today's tobacco companies use similar advertising to deceive the public's opinion about  the safety of their new products. Recently, researchers decided to survey smokers and observe the level of deception these advertising campaigns actually create.

"Slim chance those 'silvers' are safer than other cigarettes."

Dr. David Hammond and a team of researchers learned people now perceive the safety of cigarettes is dictated by the color advertisers associate with the cigarette.

Cigarette advertisers are not legally allowed to use the words "light" and "mild," as research says all types of cigarettes represent the same risk to smokers.

Dr. Hammond found in the case of today's advertising tactics, old names have been exchanged for new terms.  Light became silver and mild has became gold.  An impressive amount of smokers assume these new color associations make the cigarettes safer.

In Depth

  • Over 8,000 smokers were polled in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the USA
  • 20 percent falsely believed some cigarette brands could be less harmful than others
  • False beliefs were highest from USA citizens
  • The "Slim" cigarette designation was particularly deceptive to young women
  • Australia will soon require plain packaging on cigarettes without graphics or logs
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 12, 2011
Last Updated:
April 19, 2011