New Study Shows Kids Still Bombarded with Tobacco Advertising
Nearly Two-thirds of Youth Recall Recent Tobacco Ads -- Twice the
Percentage of Adults; Youth Recall of Advertising for Philip Morris'
Marlboro is Especially High
Washington, DC - More than three years after the major tobacco
companies agreed to stop marketing to kids as part of the 1998 state
tobacco settlement, a new poll shows that kids are twice as likely as
adults to be exposed to tobacco advertising. The poll, conducted for
the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in March, also finds that
three-quarters of kids feel targeted by tobacco companies, kids
overestimate the proportion of teens and adults who smoke, and they
still find it relatively easy to buy tobacco products.
The study was released as thousands of kids across America rally
against tobacco today on the seventh annual Kick Butts Day. The results show
nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of youth aged 12
to 17 say they have seen advertising for cigarettes or spit tobacco
products in the previous two weeks, compared to only 27 percent of
adults who claim to have seen such ads.
Philip Morris’ Marlboro is by far the brand whose advertising most
often leaves a mark on kids. Among those who recall tobacco
advertising, 61 percent of kids, compared to 49 percent of adults,
recall advertising for Marlboro. Among all survey respondents
(regardless of whether they recall any ads), 39 percent of the youth
surveyed and just 13 percent of adults recall Marlboro advertising
from the last two weeks. Thus, youth are three times as likely as
adults to recall Marlboro advertising. It is no wonder then that
Marlboro, the most heavily advertised brand, is by far the brand of
choice among youth smokers. According to the National Household
Survey on Drug Abuse, more youth smokers (55 percent) smoke Marlboro
than all other brands combined.
"This poll exposes the tobacco companies' hypocrisy and duplicity
when they say they have changed their marketing and do not want kids
to smoke," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids. "Philip Morris, the tobacco company that claims to
be doing the most to prevent youth smoking, is doing the worst job of
all. If Philip Morris isn't aiming at children, they better fire
their ad agency because this survey shows that kids are at the center
of the bulls-eye for Marlboro."
"The tobacco industry's marketing to our children will not be stopped
until Congress grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority
over tobacco products, including the authority to prohibit marketing
that appeals to kids. State leaders also must do more to protect kids
by increasing cigarette taxes and funding effective, comprehensive
tobacco prevention programs. These are proven solutions that can
protect kids from tobacco use and the addiction, disease and death
that results," said William V. Corr, Executive Vice President of the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Given the high level of exposure to tobacco marketing found by the
poll, it is not surprising that 71 percent of the youth surveyed feel
that tobacco companies want teens to smoke and that 76 percent
believe tobacco companies target teens with their advertising.
This ubiquity of tobacco marketing -- over $8.2 billion annually,
according to the most recent Federal Trade Commission report -- also
creates an environment in which teens think smoking is much more
common, and thus acceptable, than it actually is. According to the
new survey, youth believe that about 62 percent of high school
students are current smokers when, in fact, about 28 percent are.
Similarly, the youth surveyed believe that about 64 percent of adults
smoke, when national surveys show an adult smoking rate of 23
Finally, youth still think it is relatively easy for minors to buy
cigarettes and other tobacco products. Seventy percent of the youth
surveyed said it is easy for people under age 18 to buy tobacco
products. Sixty-three percent said it is easy for people under age 18
to buy tobacco products on the Internet.
As part of the November 1998 state tobacco settlement, the tobacco
companies promised not to "take any action, directly or indirectly,
to target youth." The tobacco companies have also spent hundreds of
millions of dollars on public relations campaigns claiming they are
reformed. However, several studies since the settlement, including
the FTC report, found that the tobacco companies increased their
marketing expenditures to record levels after the settlement and that
they shifted expenditures to forms of advertising, such as magazines
and convenience stores, that are most effective at reaching kids.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United
States, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year. Ninety
percent of all smokers start at or before age 18. Every day, 5,000
kids try their first cigarette. Another 2,000 kids become regular,
daily smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
The national telephone survey of 507 teens aged 12-17 was conducted
through ICR's (International Communications Research) Teen Excel
Study from March 6-10, 2002. The full sample for the survey has a
margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The national
telephone survey of 1,005 adults was also conducted through ICR's
Excel on the same dates and has a margin of error of plus or minus
3.1 percentage points.