Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif) takes to the Washington Post to save womanly virtue from Big Tobacco:
While we have come to expect this kind of sleazy marketing from tobacco companies, a big disappointment is that they've found an ally in women's fashion magazines. That's right, America's most popular magazines for women, which set trends for the country and have historically served as respected sources for articles on women's health and fitness, have sold out the well-being of their readers to help Big Tobacco in its search for new victims.
In June, 40 of my congressional colleagues joined me in writing to the publishers of 11 leading women's magazines: Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, InStyle, Interview Magazine, Lucky, Marie Claire, Soap Opera Digest, Us Weekly, Vogue and W. We asked them to stop accepting misleading advertisements for deadly cigarettes, particularly for Camel No. 9. Not one of the magazines bothered to formally respond. We wrote again on Aug. 1. Seven of the 11 magazines responded, but none has committed to dropping the ads.
Rep. Capps, who wastes no time informing us that she is "a mother, a grandmother, and a former school nurse," really needs to explain why targeting women–also known as most of humanity–is some special sort of problem. Wouldn't you expect a company to advertise to 51 percent of the population? Is that segment of the population less capable of rejecting transparently ridiculous marketing ploys? Do estrogen levels leave us especially helpless before Lucky Strike ads? You could take this entire op-ed and replace the word "women" with "children" or "half-wits" to the same effect.
Actually, Nurse Capps goes ahead and conflates those sets herself, referring repeatedly to "girls and young women." What's a young woman, exactly? We never find out, which makes it hard to know whether this set of people overlaps with the readership of, say, Elle or W. I don't see a lot of prepubescent girls reading W, but maybe I'm not hanging around cool enough girls.
She could easily argue that, pack for pack, smoking is more hazardous for women (again, most humans) than men, but she has to make that argument rather than leave us to wonder why Vogue ads are a problem and Details ads are not. Both potentially reach "young" readers. Instead we're left to assume that men, being capable of complex abstract thoughts, are immune to such marketing. And what savvy marketing it is! They've basically doused a Camel ad in pink, which is exactly the sort of thing that sets my ovaries humming. I don't know whether to be more offended that this is someone's idea of targeting women or that Ms. Capps thinks women are too fragile to be exposed to it.