The article “Tobacco Ties That Bind” was written by Peter Bach, in the New York Times on 10th April 2014. Bach is a pulmonary medical doctor who works at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as the Director in charge of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes. This article is for general readership considering it is in the New York Times and also because of the non-technical and accessible language it utilizes. He also employs the first person pronoun as a way of drawing the audience closer. Moreover, Bach makes this piece interactive by using rhetorical questions like, “So, here’s a quiz. Which chain do you think is more heavily celebrated on the website of the American Cancer Society?
At a rhetorical level, this article utilizes all the three appeals – logos, pathos and ethos. Bach appeals to logic when he cites verifiable information to vouch for his argument that there are double standards concerning pharmaceutical companies’ contributions to charitable organizations dealing with cancer. He cites the case of CVS Pharmacies which has decided to stop sales of tobacco products and then contrasts this with Wallgreens, which is commended for its contribution to the Cancer Society while continuing to sell tobacco cigarettes at its outlets. He asserts, ‘CVS pharmacies will stop sales of all tobacco products. Walgreens, well, won’t.” He also notes that the Cancer Society is among the top ten charities in terms of donations received according to Forbes. This is verifiable information which reveals that the author is well-informed on the issue in question.
On pathos, the example Bach gives of the City of St Helena where a ban on cigarette smoking resulted in significant reduction of cancer cases is a subtle call for curtailing of cigarette smoking as a strategy of reducing the risk of cancer. He also juxtaposes the Cancer Society’s act of praising CVS for their decision to stop selling tobacco products and the decision not to sign an open letter to Wallgreens to follow suit. He observes about Wallgreens, “But at the end of the day a corporate vision “to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America” is incongruous with selling the leading cause of preventable death at your cash registers.” Any person reading this will be angered by the apparent contradictory actions of Wallgreens.
On ethos, Bach uses his character and credibility a medical practitioner working in a centre that deals with cancer cases to argue his point. He cites the case whereby Robert Smith, a senior director at the Cancer Centre threatens to expose some weak connection between Bach’s organization and Wallgreens in case the author persists with attacks on the relationship between the centre and Wallgreens. There is also a sense in which Bach presents himself as just another member of the society. For example, he begins by saying “I don’t smoke”. In essence, he come across as not only an informed expert on cancer issues and charitable activities of pharmaceutical companies but also as the voice of the general public especially when he uses the first person pronoun. Generally, readers are bound to believe his assertions even when he appears to argue to the contrary at the end of the article saying, “But don’t believe me; you can read this same assertion on the website of the American Cancer Society”.
Bach, Peter. (2014, Apr. 10). Tobacco Ties That Bind. New York Times. Retrieved from