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An Analysis of the Print Ad Passive Smoking: An Active Controversy

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An Analysis of the print ad

Passive Smoking: An Active Controversy

Our society uses media in various ways to coerce an audience to buy a certain product, believe a specific message, or assume a certain belief based on a particular ad. These ads appear in many different forms, consisting of television commercials, billboard ads, and print ads. To analyze a given message, an individual must be open-minded and be able to distinguish what the underlying theme is. Often times the message being portrayed to the consumer consists of numerous fallacies. In the print ad run from the R.J. Reynolds Company entitled Passive smoking: An active controversy, cogent reasoning is needed to analyze the message suggested to the readers. The R.J. Reynolds Company is using this paid advertisement to make readers believe that passive smoking is not harmful to one's health.

Interpreting the ad, we find that R.J. Reynolds Company is stating that the reader is sensationalized by the media and is only feed the information that second hand smoke is harmful. In defense of their stance, R.J. Reynolds took it upon themselves to do their own research. In the ad, they reveal several studies that were conducted by "distinguished experts" stating that passive smoke is indeed much less harmful than believed by the average person. R.J. Reynolds Company states that these reports are "far less sensational-conclusions." These so-called expert findings came from conferences that were held in Geneva, Switzerland, Bethesda, Maryland and Vienna. The advertisement goes on to state that the presidents of the two organizing groups (who are not doctors) state in a press release that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and lung cancer have not been successfully linked. They also state that cardiovascular damage due to ETS also has not been linked. The ad closes with a statement that attacks legislation for heightening the fears of non-smokers and making them believe that ETS is not only harmful to their health but can also be deadly.

The ad Passive Smoking: An Active Controversy, is a paid advertisement by the R.J. Reynolds Company. Keeping this in mind while reading the article, the company naturally puts an extra effort in getting their own message across to the public. The average American citizen is not ignorant and knows that ETS is harmful and can have a detrimental effect on the body, especially the lungs. The claim made in this ad suggests that the media sensationalizes ETS but after R.J. Reynolds research, they found that the effects of ETS are far less harmful than one is led to believe. This theory is stated throughout their ad, with no viable evidence to support it.

R.J. Reynolds Company states that three conventions were held around the world to rule out numerous theories that ETS is harmful to an individual's health, but never states the findings that were presented at these conventions let alone the doctor's names that conducted the studies. The ad states that "distinguished experts" came up with the findings. Who exactly are these distinguished experts? They are not defined in their advertisement. For all the reader knows they could be average individuals with no more expertise them themselves. A distinguished expert could consist of a car salesman or a waitress. Without clarification or the correct credentials how is a reader supposed to believe the findings of a distinguished expert?

In the advertisement by the R.J. Reynolds Company, inductive reasoning is used to "prove their findings." The entire message uses several broad examples to come to a final generalization that ETS isn't harmful to one's health. This generalization can be coined such because it is just that, a generalization. There is no core evidence of justification that results in a medical



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