Tobacco Advertising Continues to Impact Youth Smoking
Despite the absence of billboards and cartoon characters like Joe Camel, tobacco advertising is continuing to "attrac[t] young smokers," AP/Newsday reports (AP/Newsday, 6/12). Between 1999 and 2000, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center interviewed 2,600 people ages 14 to 22 and 1,500 people ages 23 and older and found that cigarette advertisements lead young people to associate smoking with "popularity and relaxation" (Zuckerbrod, AP/Detroit News, 6/12). In addition, those surveyed "vividly recalled" tobacco advertisements that depicted smokers as "carefree" (AP/Newsday, 6/12). Dan Romer, a research director at the UPenn center, said, "[Tobacco companies are] obviously targeting it well, that it will make you look popular and cool" (AP/Detroit News, 6/12). He said that the study should be used to "restrict tobacco advertising," as many teens "underestimat[e]" the health risks of smoking. Romer added that banning pictures from tobacco advertising would end the "fun" image of smoking and give anti-tobacco advertising a "chance to work" (AP/Newsday, 6/12). Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said, "Teenagers are less responsive to information about health risks than they are about the overall psychological view of smoking that's fostered by tobacco marketing" (AP/Detroit News, 6/12).
As part of the 1998 national tobacco settlement, cigarette manufacturers were banned from using cartoon characters in and billboards as advertisements. However, Brendan McCormick, a spokesperson for Philip Morris, said that any further regulation on advertisements "needs to be balanced with preserving our ability to communicate with adult smokers." Mark Smith, a spokesperson for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., said, "We think our advertising is responsible. The changes have been dramatic. Unfortunately there are those ... you'll never satisfy." According to an Federal Trade Commission report, the five largest tobacco companies spent $8.2 billion on advertising and promotions in 1999. AP/Newsday reports that each year, one million minors begin smoking (AP/Newsday, 6/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.