Tobacco advertising has come under close scrutiny -- and very strict regulation -- in the United States in recent decades. But a mix of popular cultural beliefs, lingering effects of advertising and simple misinformation still abound about tobacco and smoking. In some developed countries, in fact, misinformation about smoking runs very deep and works directly against public health efforts to curb tobacco use.
A study of Japanese literature on smoking revealed findings that may seem shocking to some Westerners: Tobacco, in some cases, is promoted as a source for increased health and vitality. Likewise, tobacco's supposed boost to virility is a long-running myth, supported in the U.S. by long-gone ads featuring masculine characters such as the Marlboro Man [source: Kanamori].
Likewise, there are myths that abound among smokers: that so-called "light" cigarettes are less harmful than others, or that certain brands of cigarette aren't as dangerous as other brands. This attitude may keep them smoking longer, as they switch to "safer" cigarettes, rather than quitting, to try to avoid the health consequences of their addictions [source: The Partnership at Drugfree.org].