Definitive New Study Finds Teens Three Times More Sensitive To Cigarette Advertising Than Adults

Apr. 3 1996

Washington, DC - Teenagers are three times more sensitive to cigarette advertising than adults, according to a new study published today in the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing. The study examined advertising expenditures between 1974 and 1993 for nine different cigarette brands and the resulting sales of cigarettes to 12-to-18-year-old and adult smokers. It is the first study to examine the relationship between the intensity of cigarette advertising and the resulting brand market shares among adults versus youth. The study, which relied on market share modeling and analysis to reach its conclusions, found that when cigarette marketers change the rate of cigarette advertising, the impact is far more dramatic among teens. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and the Coalition on Smoking OR Health released the study today at a press conference here. "This study has conclusively shown for the first time that cigarette advertising has a much greater impact on teens than on adults." said Richard W. Pollay, lead author of the study. Pollay is professor of marketing and curator of the History of Advertising Archives at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. "The study finds that when cigarette marketers increase the amount of advertising for particular brands, the corresponding sales of these cigarettes go up. But the main action in the marketplace is among youth smokers, not among adults." Three brands -- Marlboro, Camel, and Newport -- showed the greatest differences among youth and adults in average market shares for the five different years selected between 1979 and 1993. Marlboro, which constitutes 12.7 percent of the cigarerte advertising market, has captured almost 60 percent of the youth market compared to only 21 percent of the adult market. Camel, with a 4.9 percent share of advertising expenditures, has market shares of 8.7 among adolescents and 3.7 among adults. Newport has 4.7 percent of advertising expenditures and has captured 11.1 percent of the youth market compared with 3.8 percent among adults. "This study irrevocably refutes the claim that cigarette advertising and promotions lead only to brand switching among adults, " said George Desart, Chairman of the Americna Cancer Society. "The competition among tobacco companies is primarily a battle of the brands for market share among the youth smoking market. It is no wonder that smoking rates for teens are at their highest levels in 16 years." Researchers for the study, "The Last Straw? Cigarette Advertising and Realized Market Shares Amon Youth and Adults, 1979-1993," gathered data on teen smoking behavior mainly from CDC youth smoking surveys and a Gallup poll. Data were gathered on adult smoking behavior from sales figures during this same period. Advertising expenditures of Benson & Hedges, Camel, Kool, Marlboro, Merit, Newport, Salem, Virginia Slims, and Winston were examined from 1974 through 1993. The study analyzed cigaretted advertising in magazines, newspapers, Sunday supplements, and outdoor advertising. "Regardless of what intent the tobacco companies claim, this study shows that the resulting affect of cigarette advertising is to increase smoking among youth," said Dessart. "This study provides further evidence that President Clinton and the FDA were right on target when they proposed to eliminate cigarette advertising that attracts kids. This impressive study underscores the need for action--and action now." The study postulates that the greater advertising sensitivity among teenagers is due to a deluge of tobacco advertising that appeals to teens' sense of identity and psychological needs and their exposure and interest in popular culture. "Adolescence is a time of identity formation, which makes teens especially attentive to symbols of adulthood contained in cigarette advertising," said Pollay. As stated in the study, "the theme of independence, so captured by the Marlboro Man or Virginia Slims, is particularly resonant with the characteristic need of adolescents for autonomy and freedom from authority." The study also notes that cigarettes have "friendly familiarity," a tobacco industry term referring to the fact that the pervasive nature of cigarette advertising makes cigarettes commonplace in the U.S., creating a benign, "take-it-for-granted" attitude that make cigarettes seem respectabel and reassuring. "The deluge of tobacco advertising and promotion fosters an environment that encourages experimentation by youth," said Pollay. Based on contemporary tobacco industry documents and other sources, the study also shows in a chart how tobacco companies design ads that match psychological needs of adolescents, such as autonomy, self-reliance, and independence. "Our analysis shows a continuing interest by the tobacco industry in capturing the youth market, where virtually all smokers start on the road to life-long addictions," said Pollay. The CAMPAIGN also unveiled at the press conference an exhibit from the nation's largest collection of cigarette promotional items such as knapsacks, T-shirts, baseball caps, toys, games, baby clothes, and playing cards. The collection includes more thatn 10,000 items gathered since 1984 by John Slade, M.D. The collection will later travel the U.S. as a lending library to educate parents, teens, government officials, and policy makers about the promotional tactics used by the tobacco industry to target youth. "Since cigarett advertising has been banished from the airwaves, the industry has proven adept at finding other avenues for reaching new customers," said Dessart. "It is clear that many of these items are targeted to youth. We want parents to be aware of the pervasiveness of cigarette promotional items." A 1992 Gallup survey found that half of all adolescent smokers and one-quarter of adolescent nonsmokers owned at least one of these items from tobacco companies. The study appears in the current issues of the Journal of Marketing (Vol.60, Number 2). Coauthors on the study are: S. Siddarth, Michaei Siegel, Anne Haddix, Robert K. Merritt, Gary A. Giovino, and Micheal P. Eriksen. The Coalition on Smoking OR Health is represented by this nation's three largest voluntary health organization -- the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association. The Coalition was formed in the early 1980s to educate public-policy makers about tobacco and disease prevention and to promote initiatives designed to reduce tobacco use. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is a national initiative to keep tobacco marketing from seducing children and to make tobacco less accessible to kids. It is an umbrella organization for many health, medical, civic, corporate, children's, and religious organizations working to reduce tobacco use among U.S. youth.

 

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