The primary purpose of advertising is to entice the consumer to buy the product being advertised, but there are often associated issues involved in the advertising message. For some products, it is not only important to sell the specific brand but also necessary to entice the consumer to use this type of product at all. Cigarette and alcohol advertising not only promotes specific brands but the idea of smoking or drinking. Cigarette advertising has been much criticized and much curtailed because of its power to cause young people in particular to take up smoking. Liquor advertising also sells an image of drinking that is intended to appeal to the young and to influence young people to start drinking; the ads then try to influence what brand consumers buy. The degree of drinking in America today shows that such advertising is effective.
James K. Glassman decries the recent legal decisions concerning the liability of cigarette companies, but he also notes that there is no reason to ignore producers of alcohol if such settlements are to be allowed:
To be consistent with their crusade against cigarettes, the health police have to go after alcohol. The most recent calculations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention place the number of alcoholrelated deaths in the United States each year at 108,000. That's fewer than the 419,000 deaths attributed to smoking, but there's a big difference: While cigarettes kill in middle age or later, alcohol kills people in their prime, often in car crashes. As a result, the CDC estimates that smoking deprives Americans of 1.2 million years of life before age 65; alcohol, 1.5 million years (Glassman 57).
The link between alcohol advertising and alcohol abuse remains tenuous in spite of efforts to research the subject and to develop evidence one way or the other. The alcohol industry claims that advertising only induces consumers to switch from one brand of alcoholic beverage to a...