YOUTH SMOKING: Heavily Advertised Brands Dominate
Marlboro, Newport and Camel, three of the most heavily advertised cigarette brands, also happen to be the three most popular brands among teenage smokers, according to a new study released yesterday. "Monitoring the Future," an annual survey of teen substance use conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that 88% of 12th graders, 86% of 10th graders and 82% of eighth graders who smoke use these brands. Each of 20 other brands listed in the survey of 50,000 teens were smoked by less than 2% of respondents. HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, unveiling the findings as part of the fourth annual Kick Butts Day events, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said, "For the past five years, the Clinton administration has been working hard to crack down on tobacco advertising aimed at children, and to protect our young people from the dangers of tobacco. Now we need Congress to help us finish the job, by increasing the price of tobacco products and by devoting new resources to anti-smoking programs across the country" (HHS release, 4/14).
Speaking at an Ohio middle school yesterday, Vice President Al Gore released another study, this one by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, that showed "children are two and a half times as likely as adults to have seen tobacco advertising in the past two weeks." The survey of 514 teens and 1,008 adults found that 75% of children and 31% of adults had seen the advertising. Gore added that the amount the tobacco industry spends on ads is "about 100 times what is spent on anti-smoking messages." Tobacco companies "don't spend $5 billion for the heck of it. They know it works," he said (Affleck, AP/Akron Beacon Journal, 4/15). He continued, "Our children are targets of a massive media campaign to hook them on cigarettes. This study shows why Congress should stand with our kids and stand up to the tobacco companies. Let's act now to make sure tobacco settlement funds are used to reduce teen smoking." But industry spokesperson Scott Williams said the popular brands' interest to teenagers is merely a function of successful advertising to adults. He said, "You look at the most heavily advertised car, the most heavily advertised sneaker, the most heavily advertised gum, and they would lead the list" (AP/Evansville Courier and Press, 4/14). Mike Pfeil, spokesperson for Marlboro maker Philip Morris added, "We have never marketed our product to kids and we have taken voluntary steps to focus our efforts on adult smokers only." Suggesting that Gore's position is merely an effort to position himself for his 2000 presidential run, Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson said, "Gore gobbled up at least $16,440 from the tobacco companies' PACS just from 1979 until 1990" (AP/Beacon Journal, 4/15).