The 1996 brain-child and heritage reflector of Mexican-American Christy Haubegger, today Latina magazine, owned by Latina Media Ventures LLC, has become the tobacco industry's #1 tool for permanently addicting young Hispanic females to America's #1 killer - chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine.
Thirty-one percent of Latina teens report current cigarette use. Are fifteen year-old Hispanic girls in search of adult role models being drawn to Latina magazine in record numbers? Sadly, issue after issue teaches them that to be cool, meet guys, stay thin, have fun, make friends or experience pleasure, that they need to smoke nicotine, preferably Camels or mentholated.
On face, the ads are false. There are zero tastebuds inside human lungs. Ninety percent of adult Latina smokers do not smoke nicotine for taste, pleasure or gusto but because they must, because the anxieties hurt when they don't.
What Latina magazine is not telling young readers is that, among regular users, smoking nicotine is roughly six times more addictive than snorting powdered cocaine (90% vs. 15%), that two-thirds of first time youth users become addicted, that almost 90% of new smokers are children or teenagers, that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death among the U.S. Hispanic population, or that quitting is so challenging that half of all adult female smokers are losing an average of 14.5 years of life.
How many invitations to smoke nicotine can the average young Latina reader be expected to resist before their cumulative subconscious impact results in that one fateful "what the heck" moment? Isn't it what the tobacco industry banks upon when it hands Latina magazine more than $400,000 for each full page ad?
How many times will a fifteen year-old Hispanic girl be able to smoke nicotine before her brain begins growing millions of extra nicotinic receptors in eleven different regions - three, thirteen, thirty?
Latina magazine's website boasts that "each month Latina magazine reaches *1.7 million young, dynamic, educated and influential bi-cultural women readers." Culture, tradition, beauty, health? How many thousands of "young" readers has Latina magazine already contributed to helping chemically enslave? Does it care?
But it gets worse. Readers need to understand that the magazine truly does see itself as being in partnership with the tobacco companies who advertise in Latina. Would tobacco companies continue spending nearly $1 million per month on Latina cigarette advertising if it was not producing results?
Latina magazine knows that Canada's cigarette pack addiction warning label reads, "Warning: cigarettes are highly addictive. Studies have shown that tobacco can be harder to quit than heroin or cocaine." It knows that it could share a similar addiction warning beneath every tobacco ad it presents but will never do so.
A June 2005 study found that 86.8% of youth who smoked nicotine at least once daily were already chemically dependent using dependency standards contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition.
Amazingly, in the September 2005 issue, Latina Media Ventures subjects readers to eight pages of smoking lessons in a booklet inserted between pages 84 and 85. Young readers are taught that to smoke Kool is to be "true," that smoking Kool is "about old world class and new world style," "about uptown attitude mixed with downtown vibe," "about pursuing your ambitions and staying connected to your roots," "about being authentic and original."
Imagine Hispanic leaders and the magazine's staff allowing Latina Media Ventures to falsely teach young Hispanic females that smoking nicotine is part of their "world" and their "roots." Will their keyboards and lips remain silent in the face of intentional ethnic targeting of young Latinas to self-destructive smoking of an extremely addictive drug? Who will stand for them?
John R. Polito, Editor WhyQuit.com