Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: "Old Joe" Should Be Banned

Category: Child Care


The American Academy of Pediatrics along with the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Antonio Novello, believes that "Old Joe Camel" should be banned from cigarette advertising. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that "Old Joe" was as recognizable to six year olds as was Mickey Mouse. This was quite alarming and was denied by R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camel, who say they are not even directing "Old Joe" to children. Nevertheless, the same studies show that Camel was the brand of choice for a majority of underage smokers. As pediatricians, we see younger and younger children starting to smoke. The younger you start smoking, the greater your chance of complications and disease later. If you start smoking before age 15, your cancer rate is almost 20 times higher than for non-smokers. About 6 million United States teenagers smoke right now and over 100 thousand children smoke between age 10 and 13. We must stop the tobacco industry from utilizing cartoon characters to sell cigarettes. We, in the American Academy of Pediatrics, encourage all parents to talk to their children about cigarette advertising. Remind them that "Old Joe" ads may look cute but they don't tell you the truth which is that smoking causes deadly disease over time. Smoking causes bad breath and stained teeth. Smoking causes an increase in heart disease and other cancers as well. Be an advocate for children, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and help us make industry accountable to its society.


Lung cancer is still the number one cancer killer in the United States. According to recent studies by the American Cancer Society, new cases of lung cancer among men occur at over 100 thousand per year. Cases in women have increased dramatically from 32 thousand per year in 1980 to over 66 thousand new cases per year now. Even involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke is related to 53 thousand deaths including 4 thousand directly from lung cancer.

Studies show that spouses and children in homes of smokers suffer a much higher rate of lung cancer and other cancers and heart disease. The number of children in this country under age five who are exposed to heavy cigarette exposure is estimated to be near 10 million. Children's asthma and ear infections increase three to five fold if their parents smoke.