Cocaine Addiction Information
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coke ads making fun of cocaine addiction

Coca-Cola is already one of the largest, if not the largest, beverage company in the world. Advertisements made by Coca-Cola seem almost unnecessary, so why would the company risk its image by publishing controversial advertisements? The new Coca-Cola advertisements found in New York contain various slogans about New Yorkers with the tag line “You’re on Coke.”

The Cocaine Problem in New York City

Nearly six in ten deaths in New York City show signs of recent cocaine use. Cocaine is no laughing matter for drug enforcement agencies and legal officials in the city. New York has one of the top ten highest number of cocaine users out of all the states in the country. Nearly ten percent of New York residents reported past-month use of illicit drug use in a recent study. This is an enormous percentage of the city’s residents.

Cocaine rates have shown a slight decrease in recent years, but this could be because heroin has been more plentiful and less expensive in recent months. The number of cocaine and other narcotics in New York is far too high regardless.

Coca-Cola’s Ad Campaign in New York

The current advertising campaign in New York has been met with controversy because of the obvious reference to cocaine use. The advertisement is made up of a variety of different phrases such as, “You moved to New York with a portfolio, a pair of skinny jeans and strong opinions on hemlines. You’re on (Diet) Coke.”

Another Coca-Cola advertisement is, “You moved to New York with the clothes on your back, the cash in your pocket and your eyes on the Prize. You’re on (Diet) Coke.” The phrasing of the tag line, “You’re on Coke,” creates an image of a cocaine user, not a carbonated beverage drinker.

The Coca-Cola Company has defended the company telling the New York Times that it was to “uplift for those moments when you really need to be on.” However, the idea of, “being on,” also seems to refer to the idea of being under the influence.

The History of Cocaine and Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was first invented in 1885 for medicinal purposes and contained cocaine. It was supposed to cure many diseases including morphine addiction, dyspepsia and neurasthenia.  Coco-cola was sold in drug stores for five cents a glass and was dispensed out of a soda fountain. Carbonated water was supposed to provide additional health benefits.  The original ingredients included small amounts of cocaine and caffeine mixed in soda water with syrup.

It is estimated that the original concoctions of Coca-Cola contained as much as nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. In 1903 the cocaine was removed from the recipe and the Coca-Cola Company now uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract.

Coca-Cola obtains their cocaine-free coca leaf extract from the Stepan Company plant in Maywood New Jersey. The Stepan Company, besides producing cocaine free extract, also extracts cocaine from the coca leaves which it sells to Mallinckrodt, a St. Louis Missouri pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify cocaine for medical use.

Taking Responsibility for Advertising Messages

Companies of all types and sizes need to recognize the enormous impact that advertising has on the viewpoints of youth. Children and teenagers can form an inordinate amount of their personalities based off of the “branding” they see all around them. Companies such as Coca-Cola need to take responsibility for the impact they create. They need to not ever use advertising messages that could be construed as promoting drug use.

References:

http://observer.com/2014/03/badvertising-doctors-horrified-by-coca-colas-new-ads-mocking-cocaine-addiction/

http://www.mindfully.org/Food/2004/Kdrink-Coca-Drink19apr04.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/01/business/how-coca-cola-obtains-its-coca.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile_-_new_york_0.pdf