Nov. 10 2003
Washington, DC — We applaud the state attorneys general for taking action to remove tobacco advertising from classroom editions of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report. There is no justification for the major tobacco companies to market cigarette and smokeless tobacco in the classroom editions of national newsmagazines. It is a shocking commentary about the tobacco industry’s continued efforts to market to kids that it required action by state attorneys general for them to take even the small step of removing their advertising from magazines clearly intended for use by children in a classroom setting. They should have taken this action on their own and long ago.
Since the November 1998 state tobacco settlement, in which they promised not to “take any action, directly or indirectly, to target youth,” the tobacco companies have tried to convince the public and policy makers that they have curtailed their harmful marketing practices. But the facts tell a different story. In the three years after the settlement, the tobacco companies increased marketing expenditures by 66 percent to a record $11.5 billion, or $31.4 million a day, according to the Federal Trade Commission. While the settlement restricted some forms of tobacco marketing, such as billboards, event sponsorships and tobacco brand name merchandise, the tobacco companies simply shifted their resources and dramatically increased their spending on other forms of marketing, especially promotions in convenience stores and other retail outlets. Many are highly effective at reaching kids, including highly visible store displays, price discounts that make cigarettes more affordable to kids, and free gifts with purchase. Several tobacco companies also continue to advertise in magazines with high youth readership.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation more than $75 billion in health care bills every year. Every day, another 2,000 kids become daily, regular smokers; one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. Today’s announcement is a positive first step, but we urge the state attorneys general to continue to investigate and crack down on tobacco marketing that impacts our children.