Feb. 29 2000
Washington, DC - (This statement reacts to two studies being published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The first study shows that teenagers who are regularly exposed to anti-smoking messages on television are half as likely to start smoking than those not exposed. The second study found that teenagers who can readily name a cigarette brand and who own a tobacco-sponsored promotional item – such as a gym bag or visor – are more than twice as likely to become established smokers as adolescents who do neither. The two studies of Massachusetts adolescents were funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Copies of the studies and the anti-smoking television advertising analyzed in the study can be obtained from the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS.) These two studies provide compelling evidence that, when it comes to tobacco, advertising works – both to lure kids to smoke and to convince them not to do so. They underscore the need both for states to invest tobacco settlement dollars in comprehensive tobacco prevention programs and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to move forward with comprehensive regulation of tobacco products, including meaningful restrictions on cigarette companies’ advertising and promotion that reaches children. The first study, on the impact of anti-smoking television advertising, adds scientific support to the existing evidence that comprehensive state tobacco prevention programs work. It confirms the evidence from states such as Massachusetts, Florida and California that aggressive counter-advertising, as part of a comprehensive program, works to reduce youth tobacco use. As state legislatures debate how to spend tobacco settlement dollars, this study leaves no excuses not to invest in comprehensive tobacco prevention programs. The second study affirms the need for tough restrictions on cigarette company advertising and promotion that reaches kids, such as those in the FDA rule. This study shows that kids influenced by tobacco brand promotion and advertising are much more likely to become established smokers than those who are not. Cigarette company claims to the contrary, their marketing practices do reach kids and addict them for life.