New Federal Survey Shows Philip Morris Continues to Dominate Youth Cigarette Market

Statement of Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Sep. 5 2003

Washington, DC —

(The following is a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids statement regarding tobacco-related data in the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, formerly known as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which was released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The survey included the following note regarding changes in methodology since last year: "Because of improvements to the survey in 2002, estimates from the 2002 NSDUH should not be compared with estimates from the 2001 and earlier NHSDAs to assess change over time in substance abuse." While year to year numbers cannot be compared, this year's survey like past surveys shows Philip Morris' Marlboro brand has a dominant share of the market among youth smokers.)

WASHINGTON, DC (September 5, 2003) — Contradicting Philip Morris' claims that it is a responsible company that does not market to kids, a new federal government survey released today shows that Philip Morris continues to dominate the youth cigarette market, with nearly 50 percent of youth smokers preferring the company's Marlboro cigarettes. The 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that 49.8 percent of youth smokers (ages 12 to 17) reported Marlboro as their usual brand. The next two youth-preferred brands, Lorillard's Newport at 25.1 percent and R.J. Reynolds' Camel at 10.5 percent, trailed well behind Marlboro.

For the past few years, Philip Morris has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on glitzy public relations campaigns aimed at convincing policy makers, the public and potential jurors that the company has become more responsible and does not market to children. But the fact that Philip Morris continues to have a corner on the youth cigarette market tells the real story. Philip Morris has sought to create the illusion of change in order to avoid real change in its harmful products and marketing practices. Philip Morris' plan seems to be to claim loudly that it does not want kids to smoke in the hope we don't notice that its marketing practices continue to reach kids with devastating effectiveness.

Today's survey shows why Congress cannot trust Philip Morris when it claims to support regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. What Philip Morris really wants is weak, loophole-filled FDA regulation that would require little, if any change in the tobacco industry's harmful products and marketing practices and in fact would provide a government stamp of approval to help sell more cigarettes. Congress should support real FDA regulation supported by the public health community. Real FDA regulation would protect kids and save lives by giving the FDA authority to restrict marketing that appeals to children, stop the tobacco industry from misleading the public with unproven health claims, and require technologically feasible changes, such as the reduction or elimination of harmful chemicals, to reduce the harm caused by tobacco products.

Today's survey also shows that, while we have made progress in recent years in reducing youth smoking rates, more than 750,000 kids still become new daily smokers every year. That amounts to more than 2,000 every day. In addition, more than 30 percent of all Americans reported using tobacco products in the past month, which remains unacceptably high if we are to succeed in reducing tobacco's terrible toll in health, lives and money. These results underscore the need for elected officials at all levels to implement proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its harms, including increased insurance coverage for tobacco cessation therapies, comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs, tobacco tax increases, and smoke-free air laws.

(Findings from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health are available on the web at www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov.)

 

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