Replacement Smokers

Children are called “replacement smokers” in secret documents of the tobacco industry. They have to replace smokers who die prematurely.

In the Netherlands alone, 20,000 people die each year from the consequences of smoking. Half of these people die before reaching retirement age. The tobacco industry is therefore constantly searching for new customers to replace those who prematurely die from tobacco and thus stop smoking. Who are those customers? Children! They are vulnerable thanks to intensive marketing, social media, games and peer pressure from other young people who smoke.

A young smoker spends a great deal of money as a lifelong smoker. Nearly all smokers today started before they were 18 years old. That was the case previously, and it still is today. A child becomes addicted to smoking within four weeks. Each day, 120 Dutch children start smoking.

No need is met; rather, a dependency is sponsored.

The tobacco industry sees every young person as a potential new customer and does not shy away from any means to get young people to start smoking. Misleading marketing, surreptitious advertising and attractive packaging make smoking look attractive. Sweet flavors, cough suppressants and other additives make cigarettes easier to smoke and especially extra addictive. The tobacco industry thus ensures that starting to smoke is easy, but stopping is nearly impossible.

Secret documents

The term “replacement smokers” comes from secret documents from the tobacco industry. In those documents, there are other, similar, statements about young people that reveal the deadly strategy. This for example:


“They got lips? We want them.”
(Hebben ze lippen? Dan willen wij ze.)

“Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.”
(De tiener van vandaag is de potentiële vaste klant van morgen.)

“The base of our business is the high school student.”
(De kern van onze handel is de middelbare scholier.)

“A cigarette is a nicotine delivery device.”
(Een sigaret is een hulpmiddel om nicotine te bezorgen.)

“In fact we are in the drugs business. We are drugdealers.”
(In feite zitten we in de drugshandel. Wij zijn drugshandelaren.)


See the TEDx talk by pulmonary specialists Pauline Dekker and Wanda de Kanter about Replacement Smokers 


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