The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

Tobacco Industry’s Newest Target: Hipsters

In a recent Media Network Web-cast with the Office of Smoking Health, Stacey Anderson and her colleagues presented on their research: Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.

As an urban resident myself, hipsters are a trademark of my area. Ever impressed with their sense of style, I’ll see hipsters hanging out on their stoops or in front of dive bars/cultural venues with their bicycles, tight pants, plaid and retro/alternative clothing. However, just as ubiquitous as the edgy haircuts and tattoe are the cigarettes in their hands. Which is not far from the truth as 56% of hipsters smoke.

So why are these numbers so high? According to the presentation/article, hipsters seek outlets for freedom and self-expression. They admire the kitsch, absurd, eccentric, and Camel has positioned itself to deliver what hipsters are attracted to.

Why has Camel targeted hipsters? For one, since mainstream advertising options have been restricted, tobacco industries have become acquainted with targeting underground, “alternative lifestyles” (ex. the LGBT community).

What makes hipsters easier targets is their often nihilistic outlook on life that influences them to disregard traditional health warnings against smoking.

The tobacco industry is also aware that “underground” culture influences the market, and while hipsters typically intend to be anti-establishment, they often set mainstream trends.

To overcome the fact that hipsters reject mainstream messages, tobacco marketers admittedly aim to get hipsters to think that they started the trend of smoking.

Just as the tobacco industry has targeted sub-cultural groups by essentially manipulating and inverting their own values against themselves, we need to be less straightforward with our intervention strategy. For instance, perhaps we should expose the manipulation of the tobacco industry’s attempt to infuse a corporate, mainstream product into their culture. Another idea that the presenter brought up would be to use advertising campaigns that hipsters may find attractive, like internet based relatable and The latter of which also hosts smokefree alternative concerts.

For more information on this, an abstract and summary of the article is available at the following link. ‘Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.,  (Tobacco Control, June 2010), Yogi Hendlin, Ph.D. candidate, UC Los Angeles and Stacey Anderson, Ph.D., UC San Francisco.

Blog post by Emilia Dunham

Network Program Associate



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August 27, 2010 Posted by | social media, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

SRNT Update 2: The Power of Communications

During the first Paper Sessions at the SRNT conference, there were a few things that stuck with me.  Here’s a quick rundown

Culture and Communications…

Back in Hawaii there is a small movement to stop segregating data by ethnicity.  You see, in Hawaii it’s hard to find someone who’s just one thing, usually most people are mixed with something.  So where do you classify them?  In the Japanese, in the Native Hawaiian, or the White column?  Usually they classify themselves, but the problem is still if we’re presenting data for a specific ethnicity what we really are presenting is people have at least that one ethnicity.  In any case, Dr. Monica Webb from the University of Miami had a good presentation on the power of culturally specific versus standard health education messages and materials.  In her randomized study, they placed African-Americans into two categories: one who received messages and materials specifically tailored to African-American and another who received standard materials.  The results showed that those in the culturally tailored intervention showed a higher readiness to quit, had more knowledge about tobacco overall, and had higher perceptions that African-Americans are at greater risk for tobacco use.  This is important, because it shows that culturally relevant materials do work.  However, in the issue of Hawaii, or for millions of highly acculturated immigrants, which culture do you target them through?

Speaking of culture and tobacco, the Dept. of Health in New Zealand presented on the difference between using text-based warning messages on packs versus using graphic messages.  What they found was that Maori people were most impacted by the graphic messages.

The Color Scheme

Dr. Maansi Bansal-Travers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute presented a fascinating look into how important color is to cigarette packs.  In her study, they recruited smokers via Craigslist *giggle* to assign a description to a box of well-known and not very well know cigarettes.  The description that came with the box, such as “lights” or “ultra mild” were removed.  For the most part, the smokers were able to identify which ones were “light” and such based solely on the color of the packs.  Even more interesting is that the smokers then said that if they were worried about their health or wanted low-tar cigarettes they would probably pick those they identified as “light”.  SOOOO this means that just removing the label of “light” won’t do anything because the colors already convey the message the tobacco makers want to get across.  I wonder what color the cigarette boxes would have to be to incite the feeling of “puke”…add that to the “things that make you go hmmmm…”

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Scholarship Opportunity | , , | Leave a comment


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