The new joe camel? e-cigarette ads spook anti-smoking activists – nbc news

Indeed, e cigs are growing in popularity, with about $1 billion in sales as of August 2013. As of 2012, an estimated 1.8 million middle and high school students had ever used e cigarettes, according to the researchers. With tobacco companies like Lorillard, which bought blu eCigs, entering into the mix, makers of e cigs have gone Hollywood with celebrity endorsers like Jenny McCarthy and Stephen Dorff touting the benefits of blu, and punk queen Courtney Love plugging another brand called NJOYs.

For doctors on the frontlines of treating and preventing disease among children and young adults, the prevalence of e cig use among youth is one more battle they must fight to try and keep kids healthy.

This whole study is tremendously concerning to me, says pediatrician Dr. Deb Lonzer of Cleveland Clinic Children s. Celebrities have enormous power and they are touting the benefits of smoking. I m just a nerdy little pediatrician, how can I compete with some celebrity or the deep pockets of a tobacco company?

Neuroscientists now recognize that adolescent brains are still developing, and don t reach full maturity until the early 20s. The last part of the brain to develop includes areas linked to impulse control and planning.

Just because a young person has a cell phone like an adult or holds down a job like an adult does not mean they are adults in terms of a mature brain, Lonzer said. That means they can t make decisions like an adult and when they are exposed repeatedly to things that seem to be the social norm, trust me, they will try those things.

According to a report released by the anti smoking organization Legacy, e cig manufacturers spent $39 million in advertising from June through September 2013, much of it targeted to youth. Although some manufacturers would welcome regulation, they do dispute they target America s young.

The products are being advertised to adults, said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association. If children are watching during that time, it s possible, but they are being marketed to adult consumers, to adult smokers.

NBC News’ Maggie Fox contributed to this report.

Snopes.com: camel cigarettes hidden man

Many who claim to see the little fellow say he faces left, with his erection drawn as the light streak where the camel’s leg meets the body. Others see him facing the right, with his elbow behind him. (Those who see Mae West in the same image say she’s facing left with her body turned right looking back over her shoulder, in other words.)
Is he really there? The answer depends on the viewer some will see him, some won’t. Just as clouds in a summer sky take on meaningful shapes to the one studying them, so can the odd lines and shadings within almost any drawing assume meanings the artist never intended. Curlicues and streaks used to transform flat art into a more natural looking image are often read as containing hidden images by those who go looking for concealed influences (as Procter and Gamble discovered when it began battling Satanism rumors over curls in the beard of its century old ‘man in the moon’ trademark which “those in the know” read as 666, the sign of the devil).

The furor over subliminal advertising began with the 1957 publication of Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders but did not really take off until James Vicary publicized his many claims about the power of concealed images. (See our subliminal advertising page for more about this form of advertising in general and James Vicary’s “increased popcorn and Coke sales” hype in particular.) Without going too deeply into it (the link just given already does a fine job of that), the concept of subliminal advertising keys on the notion that hidden stimuli pass stealthily though the doors of perception, lodge undetected in our minds, then exert influence over our impulses.

Whatever hidden images intentional or otherwise that have come to be lodged in package design or product advertising have yet to be proved to have appreciable influence on consumer buying habits. Sex may well sell, but if the consumer’s eye and conscious mind aren’t picking up on the message, the message doesn’t get acted on. In other words, all the penis waving naked little men in the world aren’t going to move the product if they exist only as practically undecipherable lines etched into a camel’s leg.

Those who search for hidden influences have a tendency to read sex related messages into just about anything. Forgetting about the drawing in question for a second, the one humped camel itself has been quite seriously suggested by some to represent pregnancy, the one undeniable proof of a man’s ability to get it up and get it off. That large, jutting, single hump, they say, is evocative of the belly of a very pregnant woman. According to that particular form of wisdom, by flaunting this package a man announces (especially to himself) that he’s a right virile chap who has no problems pointing due North when the situation calls for it.

(Heaven knows what these same gurus would have made of a bactrian camel would the two humps have been interpreted as jutting mammary glands?)

Pregnant women and virility theories aside, Camel cigarettes chose a dromedary as its symbol because the only ship of the desert available for sketching was a one humper called Old Joe. Surviving photos of Old Joe compared against the earliest Camel ad (a drawing of a camel which simply announced “The camels are coming” but made no mention of what product was being advertised) show the artist took few, if any, liberties in rendering Old Joe’s likeness.

Okay, that answers why the image is a dromedary as opposed to a two humper why name this brand of cigarettes after an exotic animal, the like of which most people in 1913 would not see with their own eyes during their lifetimes?

The brand came by its unusual name and romantic packaging due to that era’s mania for all things Egyptian. The camel and pyramids were pure Egypt and thus filled with mystery, but it wasn’t just the allure of faraway places which drew people in Victorian symbology, things Egyptian were inextricably linked to mortality. Such images were also linked to empire and power, especially since Napoleon’s sacking of the Nile. The pyramids had influenced entire schools of sepulchral and imperial design, so it’s not unreasonable they would influence a ground breaking new brand of cigarettes.

Compared to current cigarette pack design, Camels artwork stand out as unspeakably exotic. It is possible the speculation about the naked man on the cigarette pack stems from the comparison of the ornate look of the Camels’ artwork to the austere and streamlined forms of other current brands. A pack of Camels, these days, looks far different from its neighbors in the cigarette rack at the store, but that wasn’t always the case. Other brands no longer on the marketplace also featured ornately overdrawn images.

The introduction of Joe Camel in 1988 changed the direction of rumors associated with this brand. Many have commented on the shape of Joe Camel’s head, likening it to a penis. Others see a penis and testicles or an act of copulation in that pate. Still others say Joe’s nose bears a resemblance to a penis (some even noting it looks like “a smoking penis”).

In interviews, Mike Salisbury, the creator of Joe Camel, disclaims any intentional resemblance between Joe’s face and a phallic image “People read all this stuff into it,” he says.

Barbara “smoke signals” Mikkelson

Last updated 27 January 2014

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