It all started when Christopher Columbus discovered, during the colonization of America, that the Amerindians smoked tobacco in order to cure illnesses.Consequently, in 1520 the first tobacco seeds were exported to Europe. In 1843, the first cigarette was created, a consumer product that became popular in the 20th century, particularly thanks to the two World Wars. The incentive to smoke cigarettes was very important with emblematic advertisements. Later in the middle of the XXth century, scientists gradually realized the dangers of cigarettes. For this reason prices of packs of cigarettes always increased to ultimately avoid usage. Since March 1, 2020, the Marlboro package has increased to € 10. Faced with this new price increase, the Grunge News team decided to better explain to you the history of the globalization of cigarettes, the advertising campaigns that encouraged people to smoke, and we will end by explaining to you the health costs caused by cigarettes and its condition in France today.
Since March 1, in France, the price of a pack of cigarettes has increased to € 10. The goal being, to reduce consumption among smokers. This price of the package has always increased, but in a gradual and not brutal manner. However, studies show that to successfully stop smoking you should stop smoking suddenly rather than gradually.
Title : "Tobacco : a 10€ package will reduce sales ?"
Cigarette sales in millions of units in France between 2002 and 2015*
*and the average annual price of the pack of cigarettes of the best-selling brand.
In blue : "Cigarettes sales"
In orange : "Package price"
Seeing the data in the graph showing the story of the rise in the price of the package, it is easy to see that after the increase in 2004, the sale of cigarettes more or less stagnated despite the multiple increases. We therefore note that such increases do not fulfill the main objective announced, which is to reduce consumption.
But let's go back to the basics, the twentieth century and cigarettes...
At the start of the 20th century, cigarettes became a common consumer product. The French gradually turned away from the pipe to adopt this new consumer good.
Over the years, cigarettes became popular, thanks in particular to France.
Indeed, it is in France where the monopoly of tobacco is managed and continually grows. With no hesitation, this pushed the French to consume more to increase profits. Advertisements were everywhere in cities, and cigarettes became a fashion accessory. Initially it was dedicated to wealthy classes, and it was specifically women who appropriated it (especially thanks to the invention of the cigarette holder.)
However, the arrival of the two World Wars popularized cigarettes throughout France and around the world. France had put in place the distribution of free cigarettes to soldiers, and it quickly became an addiction. Indeed, it was their only comfort in the face of physical and psychological violence. After the end of the fighting, the majority of soldiers took refuge in cigarettes to alleviate their trauma and extol their soothing virtues to the rest of society.
Following the two Great Wars, the production of cigarettes increased from 10 billion units, in 1923, to 19 billion in 1940. Additionally, until the 1990s, cigarettes were part of military rations.
After that, the production of cigarettes increased incessantly. The arrival of American advertising, including that of the giant Marlboro, created a new wave of consumers.
Marlboro is an American brand of blond cigarettes. In the 1950s, it was the best-selling brand in the world and its advertising had a strong impact on the population.
This brand is incredibly well known around the world. The packaging is embodied by a face, Robert Norris. This man is better known by the name of “Malboro Man” or “Cowboy”. He is the brand's first icon, but surprisingly... also a non-smoker.
These first Marlboro commercials arrived in the 50s and aimed to popularize the cigarette with the more popular classes and men who could sometimes consider it as a female accessory.
These campaigns were immensely successful, as sales of Marlboro packets increased by 300% and made cigarettes an accessory adopted in all social classes. At that point, cigarette production in France reached 86 billion in 1980.
After several campaigns, Robert Norris, knowing the harmful effects of cigarettes, withdrew from his role as “Malboro Man” to avoid obtaining a bad image/reputation. After him, several took over this role, and many of them eventually died from smoking-related illnesses. This is the case of David McLean, who died of cancer at the age of 73. His case received a lot of media attention as his family accused Malboro of being responsible for his nicotine addiction. The “Marlboro man” was withdrawn from further advertisements in 1997, remained world famous.
Furthermore, cigarettes have become a scourge for the population following all of these advertising campaigns, which widely encouraged tobacco smoking. Cigarettes have become an overly large societal problem, as they are responsible for the deaths of 7 million people a year worldwide. These statistics may seem exorbitant, but looking at the number of deaths in the 20th century (100 million), it seems more plausible.
In France, we are, in comparison to our neighbors in the European Union, among the heaviest smokers with around 30% of smokers. The most vulnerable to smoke is mainly attributed to younger audiences as they are more vulnerable to societal pressures and ideals. For example; in the evening, smoking with friends, the willingness to go against the parents' prerogatives, ... In addition to being easily influenced, the adolescent brain reaches maturity at 21 years of age; so addiction to a previous age is easier. According to a study by Dr Abreu-Villaca there would be an increase in nicotine receptors in the brain the day after the first inhalation. These receptors become more numerous for a person under 21 years of age, so the desire to smoke will be present again. In addition, according to a study by Edythe London, the insular cortex of a teenage smoker is less developed than that of a non-smoker, and it is thanks to our insular cortex that we make decisions, among other things. One of A teenage smoker is less developed, which would make it difficult for them to decide whether or not to take up a cigarette. Through envy and request of the brain, a younger individual will not be able to resist the temptations to smoke.
It then becomes very complicated for the adolescent to stop. In fact, there are around 90,000 young people in the world, whom each day, become addicted to tobacco. Yet, those who smoke as young as 15 are twice as likely to die before their 70s as those of the same age who have never smoked.
Nicotine, considered to be a hard drug, a rapidly addictive drug, is therefore a far more dangerous substance than people might think. As proof, it is more difficult to stop nicotine than to stop using heroin. Cigarettes are therefore responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world, but why is it such a dangerous substance, what does it contain ?
Cigarette smoke contains a total of around 5000 chemical species, part of which is responsible for various and varied diseases such as cancer of the esophagus, lungs, bladder, respiratory, cardiac, fertility problems ... There are as many possible illnesses from smoking that the mind can imagine.
Carbon monoxide present in tobacco attacks the heart and blood vessels, tar being a carcinogenic substance, radioactive products such as radium or polonium, etc.
All these substances, found for the most part in smoke, are an additional source of harm to the environment. Each year around 3000 smokers die from secondhand smoke (breathing smoke emitted from cigarettes). These numbers prove that cigarettes are clearly a danger not only for the smoker but for the surrounding environment. It is important to underline the fact that passive smoking is a term connected to non-smokers. Passive smoking can cause more or less the same diseases as a smoker. If death tolls from the inhalation of the smoke around us increases again, hopefully appropriate measures will be taken. However, this would amount to the fact that the government has an even greater control over the lives of the population. Here we enter a debate in which security or privacy are privileged.
The cigarette, a consumer product that is far too established in culture, is struggling to disappear from the landscape. Greatly profiting France, the disappearance of this drug is not about to happen. However, the deaths associated with mass consumption has not ceased to increase, and attracts the more vulnerable and younger audiences. Cigarettes are considered a legal hard drug, while cannabis is considered a soft drug (without physical dependence). Should it, in your opinion, be legalized in France?