Chilean Miners’ Request: Cigarettes?

Chilean miners, now trapped underground for more than a month, have been granted one of their primary requests: cigarettes. As any regular smoker knows, it’s hard to quit smoking. And the miners must be getting some serious nicotine cravings after a month trapped in a mineshaft deep underground. Apart from the obvious dangers – fire and explosion – it’s not hard to see why the announcement (ironically made by the Chilean health minister) was made. Keeping up the miners’ morale until they are rescued is paramount. After all, according to the most recent reports, it might take until November to free them. But the announcement highlights how addictive cigarettes are, and provides us with an opportunity to think about the role of cigarette companies in today’s world – particularly in other countries besides the U.S.

Marketing Cigarettes

In the U.S., the rate of smoking is down across all age groups. This is due to a number of factors: better education about the dangers of smoking, stricter rules about cigarette advertising, and rising cigarette prices, to name a few. However, most cigarette companies are not only extant but thriving. Like any corporations, they’ve adapted to the new state of affairs in the U.S. and adjusted their strategies. A major component of their new business plans is overseas marketing of cigarettes. In fact, for some of these companies, the majority of their sales are overseas sales. Are these companies taking advantage of a more favorable climate for cigarette sales in other countries? Of course. It’s also a truism that people in other countries – for the most part – have access to basic health information – like that cigarettes can be dangerous. However, such information in many countries is probably equivalent to health information in the U.S. during the 1960s. Therefore, it’s reprehensible that cigarette companies have marketed their products so aggressively overseas.

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