New Poll: Teens Still Feel Targeted By Tobacco Ads & Find It Easy to Buy Cigarettes

13th Annual ?Kick Butts Day? Calls for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products

Apr. 1 2008

Washington, D.C. — Ten years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, a new poll conducted for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids finds that kids still feel targeted by tobacco advertising and still find it easy to buy tobacco products.

The poll is being released as thousands of young people across the country prepare to rally against tobacco on Wednesday, April 2, for the 13th annual Kick Butts Day, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (for a list of events in each state, visit Also on Wednesday, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids.

The national telephone survey of 507 teens (12-17 year olds) and 1,008 adults found:

  • Three-fourths of teens (74 percent) think tobacco companies want them to smoke, and 70 percent think tobacco companies target them with their advertising.
  • Teens are twice as likely as adults to remember tobacco advertising. While almost half (47 percent) of teens recalled tobacco advertising from the last two weeks before the survey, only 24 percent of adults did. Among teens who recalled tobacco advertising, the most commonly mentioned source was "in or outside a store."
  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of teens think it is easy for teenagers to buy tobacco products. Among 15-17 year olds, 76 percent think it is easy.

The survey was conducted March 5-10, 2008, by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for the teen survey and 3.1 percentage points for the adult survey. A report about the poll findings and the impact of tobacco marketing on youth can be found at:

To protect kids from tobacco addiction and save lives, health advocates are urging Congress to pass the legislation (S. 625/H.R. 1008) granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. In addition to cracking down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids, the bill would also grant the FDA authority to ban candy-flavored cigarettes; require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of their products and reduce or remove harmful ingredients; stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about the health risks of tobacco products; and require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products.

"It is unacceptable that tobacco products are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, yet they are virtually unregulated to protect our kids and the nation's health," said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "By granting the FDA authority over tobacco products, Congress can stop the tobacco industry from targeting our children and misleading the public. We hope Kick Butts Day will inspire our nation?s leaders to take effective action to protect children and save lives."

At the state level, health advocates are urging governors and legislators to adopt proven measures to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, including higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free workplace laws, and well-funded programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

Since the 1998 tobacco settlement, tobacco companies have nearly doubled their annual marketing expenditures, from $6.9 billion in 1998 to $13.4 billion in 2005 - more than $36 million per day, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Nationwide, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 23 percent of high school students still smoke, and about 1,000 kids become new regular smokers every day.


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