Blowing Smoke Cigarette Ads Lure Asian Women with Glitz

Article excerpt

Smoking cigarettes means liberation, equality and Western glamour - or at least that's the message American tobacco companies are aiming at Asian women.

Delegates to a meeting of the Asia Pacific Association for the Control of Tobacco admit that the advertising blitz seems to be working.

"Probably the greatest opportunity for preventive health in Asia today is to prevent a rise in smoking among women, and we're losing everywhere," said Judith Mackay of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control.

Smoking rates among Asian women remain relatively low, but Mackay said cigarette makers were trying to change that with advertisements that feature slim Western women and link smoking to emancipation.

Virginia Slims ads, for example, have urged Japanese women to "Be You" and told Hong Kong women, "You're On Your Way."

At the meeting, which ended Friday in this northern Thai city, delegates said tobacco companies were using satellite television and sponsoring sports, arts and music events to get around advertising bans in some Asian countries, such as Thailand and Singapore. …