Contrary to Steve Martin's speculation regarding Virginia Slims, R.J. Reynolds' new sub-brand for women, Camel No. 9, is distinguished mainly by pink-and-green packaging and flowers in the ads, which declare the cigarettes "light and luscious." After explaining the company's marketing strategy, which aims to feminize a known brand partly because "the many restrictions on marketing cigarettes make it more difficult for an all-new brand name to break through," The New York Times offers the obligatory complaint from an anti-smoking activist. In this case it's Cheryl G. Healton, president and chief executive of the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking group created by the same Master Settlement Agreement that imposed many of those marketing restrictions (and funded by evil tobacco money). "The sad part is, this product is just more of the same," says Healton. "More women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, by a wide margin," but the tobacco companies still "want to increase their market share among women."
No kidding. I know, I know. Cigarettes are evil; they kill people. No one should be selling them, let alone promoting them. But given that companies are still allowed to promote and sell them, why is promoting and selling them to women especially objectionable? For the same reason that promoting and selling them to black people (remember Uptown?) is especially objectionable. Both are "vulnerable groups" that do not have a white man's wherewithal to resist Big Tobacco's come-ons. This kind of thinking is so progressive it's retrograde.