I am surprised more and more each day at the growth of a small clique that bonds over their ruthless habit they’ve taken up before and after school, during lunch and at all other times they can manage to sneak away for a cigarette. In full view of my high school’s main entrance, a large group of students stand, smoking and filling the air with a sour smell. They’re all there right up until the first period bell sounds and many of them longer.

It’s hard to imagine why young, otherwise healthy individuals would take up such a self-destructive and physically taxing habit. Well, truth is they are exactly what any company trying to market a product want, especially tobacco companies. Young people are often in desperate search for activities and behaviors that define themselves. Companiesthat take advantage of this by putting out a notion that their product is stylish and cool and fun are going to tempt and interest teens. And not only do tobacco companies have the appeal that makes young people want to buy their firstpack, but they are also selling a product that can create a physical addiction after smoking just one cigarette. So tobacco companies simply need to tempt teens and soon the dangerous effects of the product begin to keep you buying on its own.

The first atrocious Camel ad campaign was that including Joe Camel, a cartoon character who endorsed and enjoyed Camel cigarettes. He appealed to a shockingly young crowd. Joe Camel is no longer around but two years ago he Camel introduced another ad targeted at a very young audience. “Camel No. 9” is supposed to be “light and luscious.” The boxhas hot pink trim and is advertised next to party dresses and fancy jewelry. At first glance, the ad featured in Glamour magazine is a trendy prom outfit that would catch the eye of many typical young females but with a closer look you realize that all the glitz is centered around a pack of cigarettes. Who knew sticks of addiction and disease could be so stylish? Research has estimated that 174,000 underage girls have started smoking as a result of the No. 9 ads.

In a recent study where young girls were asked about their favorite cigarette advertisement, the percentage of girls who even reported having a favorite increased by about 13% over the course of the year in which this ad campaign was launched. The increase was attributed to Camel because the 10% of girls favoring their brand and ads rose to 22% in the course of just one year.

I am repeatedly shocked as I walk past that group of my peers who continue to further their addictions and damage their bodies each day. Whatever the reasons they’ve found to smoke may be, teens like them do not deserve to be targeted and lured in by advertising companies. It’s a shame that the group of kids is growing and that it has to be so difficult to keep young people making healthy decisions.