Cigarette advertising died out in the UK many years ago and to see it so prevalent in such a forward thinking country is odd.
Walking through towns and cities you will see hundreds of advertising billboards some advertising radio stations, or shopping centres, or city events, the kinds of things you would expect to see on billboards. However, more often than not they will show a beautiful couple, with enormous smiles gazing longingly at one another whilst holding cigarettes.
To give you an idea of just how out of place this feels to a non-native, this kind of advertising has been banned in the USA since 1994 and in the UK adverts showing people smoking have been banned since 1986!
It’s such a peculiar juxtaposition because these advertisements are still forced to show the enormous warning labels, saying something menacing such as “Rauchen kann todlich sein” or “Smoking can be deadly” but the two sexy people in the adverts look like they are having the time of their lives!
Germany sits at number 33 in global cigarette consumption per capita, with an average of 1480 cigarettes per adult, per year. The USA sits at number 57 on the list, at an average of 1083 cigarettes and the UK fares much better at number 74 with 826 cigarettes per capita.
Germans actually consume far more American brands of cigarettes and this is all to do with the post-war period where cigarettes were a form of currency. American GI’s received a ration of cigarettes whether they smoked or not and they used these in exchange of goods and services in Germany. As a result it is still these brands today that dominate the advertising – Marlboro, L&M, Pall Mall and Lucky Strike to name a few.
I can’t see how this kind of advertisement still has a place? Are non-smokers going to think… hmm, that looks great, I think I’ll take up smoking? I honestly thought this kind of advertising died out with the Marlboro man… or is he still around?