Tobacco-Free Kids Applauds Tyra Banks for Exposing the Ugly Truth About Smoking

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Oct. 1 2007

Washington, D.C.—- The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds Tyra Banks and her television show “America’s Next Top Model” for exposing the ugly truth that smoking is not only dangerous to health, there is also nothing glamorous about it. Last week’s season premiere of “America’s Next Top Model” featured a photo shoot that depicted the harmful effects of smoking, including premature aging and other negative effects on appearance and health. In a welcome change from past seasons in which contestants have been shown smoking, Tyra Banks called on contestants to be role models for young girls by not smoking on the show and seeking to quit.

Too often, the fashion and entertainment industries have glamorized smoking and set bad examples for our children. Tyra Banks is a courageous exception, and her actions will help prevent kids from smoking and save lives. Ms. Banks has shown true leadership in challenging the fashion industry to recognize that pervasive smoking by models sends a deadly message that equates smoking with beauty and weight loss. Ms. Banks, who has spoken of losing a family member to smoking-caused disease, knows firsthand that there is nothing beautiful or glamorous about smoking. Tyra Banks is sending a powerful message that smoke-free is both healthy and beautiful.

Tyra Banks’ example could not be timelier as the R.J. Reynolds’ tobacco company is stepping up efforts to market the company’s new Camel No. 9 cigarettes to women and girls by linking it to fashion and beauty. RJR’s latest magazine ads for Camel No. 9 feature vintage fashion and appeals to “the most fashion forward woman.” The ads offer a version of Camel No. 9 “in stiletto.” It is truly offensive that R.J. Reynolds thinks it can sell a product that causes lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of women, by associating it with fashion and beauty. It is equally outrageous that many fashion magazines have put profit before responsibility by continuing to run these ads, ignoring repeated requests to stop doing so from members of Congress led by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and numerous public health organizations.

Tobacco use is the nation’s number one preventable cause of death, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year. We must end the glamorization of smoking, whether by the tobacco industry itself or by the fashion and entertainment industries. Tyra Banks is doing something about it. Her actions are making a difference. And we salute her for it.

 

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