New campaign warns that nicotine can cause impotence in men
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Hoping to eliminate the popular, sexy image of smoking cigarettes, Oregon's new anti-smoking campaign warns that nicotine can cause impotence in men.
The television and billboard advertisements feature smokers with drooping cigarettes -- a play on the impotence theme.
"If the risk of lung cancer, throat cancer and heart disease don't make men think twice about lighting up, perhaps the risk of impotence will," said Dr. Ivan Sandoz, a Portland urologist.
The campaign is one of several state-sponsored programs to cut tobacco use, particularly among youngsters. They include programs in schools, communities and businesses.
The effort is financed by part of a 30-cent-a-cigarette-pack tax increase Oregon voters approved in 1996. Most of the tax goes to support the Oregon Health Plan. About $2 million a year goes to anti-smoking advertising campaigns.
The ads linking smoking with impotence are identical to ones used for the past two years in California.
Anti-tobacco ads, such as the ones featuring cowboys, likely have been effective at reaching potential smokers, said Lynn Kahle, a University of Oregon marketing professor.
But the ads linking smoking with impotence might have a tougher sell, he said.
"People are suspicious of claims in ads," Kahle said. "Even an ad like that would need to convince people that its claim is accurate."
Mark Nelson, a lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds, a cigarette-maker, said he was unaware of studies linking smoking with impotence.
"I haven't heard of that one, and I thought I'd heard of all the major issues," Nelson said.
Sandoz said he and other urologists have been aware of a connection between smoking and impotence for the past 15 years. One property of nicotine is that it causes arteries to constrict, he said. Years of exposure to nicotine's effects can damage blood vessels in the penis, which becomes erect when it is engorged with blood, he said.
Studies show that continual constriction of vessels leading into the penis eventually can cause the smooth muscles lining the arteries to deteriorate into fibrous tissue, blocking blood flow, Sandoz said.
"We think it's critically important to get this new twist before the public," said Dr. David Fleming, state epidemiologist.