CIGARETTE MARKETING: UCSD Study Shows Impact On Youth
"Tobacco ads and such promotional items as T-shirts and gadgets entice a significant number of teenagers to try smoking even if they were adamantly opposed to starting," according to a new study by researchers from the University of California-San Diego. John Pierce, head of UCSD's Cancer Prevention and Control Program, said the "study is the first to link tobacco promotions and ads to a progression toward smoking in teens who a few years earlier had no intention of starting to smoke." In the study, which is published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, Pierce's team interviewed 1,752 California adolescents who "said they were resolved against smoking," and then reinterviewed the same teens three years later in 1996. "What researchers found in 1996 was that those adolescents who in 1993 had a promotional item or who wanted one or who had a favorite ad were three times more likely to have thought about or tried smoking or actually become a smoker than those who could not name a brand or had no favorite item," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Clark, 2/18). "Our study estimates that tobacco industry promotional activities in the mid 1990s will influence 17% of those who turn 17 years old each year to experiment with cigarettes," the researchers wrote (Pierce et al, JAMA, 2/18 issue).
A second study, "by a doctor at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and professors at Boston University and Harvard Business School, suggests that the makers of certain brands popular among teens are more likely to advertise in magazines with a high percentage of young readers" (Taylor, Wall Street Journal, 2/18). "[O]ur findings provide new evidence that cigarette advertising in magazines is correlated with youth readership, and that this relationship is different for youth and adult cigarette brands," the researchers wrote, noting that "[y]ouths are more heavily exposed to magazine cigarette advertisements for brands that are popular among youth smokers than for brands smoked almost exclusively by adults." The researchers conclude that "the results of this study strengthen the justification for regulating cigarette advertising in magazines. Based on the documentation in this and other studies of widespread and heavy exposure of youths to cigarette advertising in magazines, public health considerations argue that cigarette advertising in all magazines should be eliminated" (King III et al, JAMA, 2/18 issue).