Almost 90 percent of all regular smokers begin smoking at or before age 18, and hardly anybody tries their first cigarette outside of childhood. In other words, if kids stopped smoking, the cigarette companies’ market of smokers would shrink away to almost nothing. But thanks, in large part, to cigarette company marketing efforts, each day about 4,000 kids try smoking for the first time, and another 1,000 kids become regular daily smokers.
Exposure to tobacco marketing, which includes advertising, promotions, cigarettes samples, and pro-tobacco depictions in films, television and videos more than doubles the odds that children under 18 will become tobacco users. As much as a third of all youth who experiment with smoking do so because of effective tobacco industry marketing. Tobacco companies rely on antismoking behaviors learned as a child to be unlearned as youth look forward to adopting adult behaviors, and studies show that their parent tips can do more harm than good.
Numerous internal tobacco industry documents, revealed in the various tobacco lawsuits, show that the tobacco companies have perceived kids as young as 13 years of age as a key market, studied the smoking habits of kids, and developed products and marketing campaigns aimed at them. As an R.J. Reynolds Tobacco document put it, “Many manufacturers have ‘studied’ the 14-20 market in hopes of uncovering the ‘secret’ of the instant popularity some brands enjoy to the almost exclusion of others. . . . Creating a ‘fad’ in this market can be a great bonanza.”
Get the facts on how the tobacco industry targets children.
The freedom young adults feel when leaving home to go to college or into the workplace contribute to desire to try adult behaviors. Young adults are especially vulnerable to the pressures to experiment. That’s when tobacco marketers start saturating them market with their deadly message.
Tobacco companies rely on the fact that in adulthood, youth-learned prevention will be undone. As the tobacco industry promotes smoking as an adult behavior, young adults who are leaving home for college or the workplace readily adopt such behaviors during this time of experimentation and new-found independence.
Despite dramatic decreases in high school smoking rates in Maine over the last ten years, one-third of young adults 18-24 still smoke.
Women have been extensively targeted in tobacco marketing, and tobacco companies have long produced brands specifically for women. Such marketing toward women is dominated by themes of social desirability and independence, which are conveyed by advertisements featuring slim, attractive, and athletic models.
Camel No. 9 cigarettes, introduced in January 2007 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, are the latest entry in Big Tobacco's long history of marketing cigarettes to women and girls. The result has been devastating for women's health.
While RJR claims that it is marketing only to women, its advertising and promotions tell a different story. Slick ads for Camel No. 9 have run in magazines popular with girls, including Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and InStyle. Promotional giveaways include berry lip balm, cell phone jewelry, cute little purses and wristbands, all in hot pink.
Find out more about how Big Tobacco is targeting women and girls from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
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