When the Reynolds American tobacco company recently completed its purchase of Lorillard, Reynolds CEO Susan Cameron touted the deal as a return to the “old days” for the tobacco industry.
When it comes to Big Tobacco, the “old days” were a time when youth smoking rates were skyrocketing, the industry used cartoons and cowboys to target kids, and tobacco executives denied that smoking was addictive or caused disease.
Around the world, health advocates are fighting back against the latest youth-oriented marketing campaign for Marlboro cigarettes – and calling on governments to stop Marlboro once and for all.
For decades, the iconic Marlboro Man made Marlboro the most popular cigarette brand among youth – fueling a global epidemic that will kill one billion people this century if current trends continue.
Teen use of electronic cigarettes has skyrocketed, with the most recent surveys showing that e-cigarette use now exceeds cigarette smoking among U.S. youth.
It's not surprising. E-cigarette manufacturers continue to use marketing tactics that come right out of Big Tobacco's playbook for promoting regular cigarettes to kids. Their tactics include slick magazine ads, sponsorship of concerts and auto races, celebrity endorsements and sweet, colorful flavors.
The youth-oriented “Be Marlboro” marketing campaign from tobacco giant Philip Morris International continues to spread around the world. The latest stop: The country of Georgia.
Last month, a “Be Marlboro” promotional event was spotted in a high-end shopping mall in Tbilisi, Georgia. Located in a high traffic area, the “Be Marlboro” display featured two Ferrari race cars and a video game stand surrounded by bean bag chairs in the red and white Marlboro colors. Not surprisingly, the booth attracted the attention of children at the mall.
WASHINGTON, DC – The 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today shows that historic declines in youth cigarette smoking continue, but youth use of electronic cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014 and, for the first time, exceeds use of regular cigarettes.
Among high school students, current cigarette smoking (use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) fell from 12.7 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in 2014, reaching another record low. However, current e-cigarette use jumped from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014 (it was just 1.5 percent in 2011). Also troubling, there was no decline in overall tobacco use from 2011 to 2014, with 24.6 percent of high school students reporting current use of at least one tobacco product in 2014.
WASHINGTON, DC – FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee had no choice but to recommend rejection of Swedish Match's application because it did not answer the basic question of whether, if it were allowed to make the claim of lower risk, smokers would switch from cigarettes to snus or use both products at the same time. A properly prepared application could well have received a different result, but the flaws in the application were so blatant that they made it impossible for the advisory committee to rule in their favor.
WASHINGTON, DC – In troubling news for our nation’s kids and health, the Federal Trade Commission’s latest reports on tobacco marketing show that cigarette marketing expenditures increased by nearly 10 percent, to $9.17 billion, in 2012. Adding $435.7 million in smokeless tobacco marketing, the tobacco companies spent a total of $9.6 billion to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco – that’s $26 million each day and more than $1 million every hour. The cigarette marketing increase was driven by a sharp rise in spending on price discounts, which now account for 85 percent of all cigarette marketing.
WASHINGTON, DC – A new study published today finds that Internet vendors of electronic cigarettes do little to prevent youth from purchasing their products and teens can easily buy e-cigarettes online despite claims that online vendors verify customer age. The study, conducted in North Carolina, found that only five out of 98 attempts by teens to buy e-cigarettes online were blocked by online vendors’ attempts to verify customer age.
The big tobacco companies proclaim loudly and often that they have changed and are now responsible corporate citizens.
But it took just 18 minutes for political satirist John Oliver to rip those claims to shreds and show how Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies target kids around the world and bully countries that try to save lives.
Tobacco companies claim they don’t market their products to kids, but their actions continue to show otherwise.
The latest example: Sports Illustrated’s just-published 2015 swimsuit issue, which contains an astounding seven ads for tobacco products. Amid the photos of curvaceous models in barely-there bikinis, there are two ads for cigarette brands (Natural American Spirit and Newport), three ads for the leading smokeless tobacco brands (Grizzly, Skoal and Copenhagen) and two ads for electronic cigarettes (MarkTen and blu).
WASHINGTON, DC – Poisoning incidents involving electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine jumped by 156 percent from 2013 to 2014 and have increased more than 14 fold since 2011, new data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers shows. Calls to poison control centers involving exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine increased to 3,957 in 2014 from 1,543 in 2013 and 271 in 2011 (according to the AAPCC, the preliminary 2014 data will be updated as poison centers update their reports).
For millions of fans of all ages, October means the excitement of the baseball playoffs and World Series.
For tobacco companies, it means another opportunity to target kids by associating smokeless tobacco with baseball and other sports.
This month’s issues of the two leading sports magazines, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, have included huge, two-page advertising spreads for Grizzly, which is by far the most popular smokeless tobacco brand among youth ages 12-17. Grizzly is made by American Snuff Company, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American.
WASHINGTON, DC – By announcing restrictions on smoking in its facilities, Reynolds American seems to finally be admitting that secondhand smoke harms health after publicly denying it for decades. However, by allowing designated smoking areas, the company’s new policy is severely flawed and fails to provide effective protection from secondhand smoke and the lung cancer and heart disease it causes. As the U.S. Surgeon General and other public health authorities have found, only comprehensive smoke-free policies provide effective protection from secondhand smoke. Designated smoking areas fail to do so, as secondhand smoke does not stay in such areas.
Across the United States, poison control centers continue to report soaring numbers of accidental poisonings related to the nicotine liquid used in electronic cigarettes.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reports that, through August 31, there have been 2,724 calls so far this year involving exposures to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine. That is up from 1,542 in 2013, 460 in 2012 and 271 in 2011.
These reports have spurred a growing call by public health organizations and members of Congress to require child-resistant packaging of nicotine liquid products.
Philip Morris International's “Be Marlboro” campaign is coming under fire again for targeting youth. This time, the consumer protection agency from the Brazilian state of São Paulo has fined Philip Morris over $480,000.
The agency acted after a formal complaint was filed against Philip Morris by tobacco control activists who documented how its marketing tactics were aimed at youth. Paula Johns, Executive Director of the Brazilian advocacy organization ACT, calls the campaign "cynical", noting that “independence and autonomy are associated with a product that actually makes the person dependent."
WASHINGTON, DC – A new government study published today shows that 17.4 million Americans – 7.3 percent of U.S. adults – smoke cigars every day, some days or rarely. This study shows that cigar smoking is a serious public health problem that must be addressed through strategies such as Food and Drug Administration regulation of all cigars and taxation of cigar products at the same rate as cigarettes.
Despite international media criticism and widespread calls from public health groups and government officials to end its "Be Marlboro" marketing campaign, Philip Morris International is doubling down and expanding its youth-oriented campaign around the globe.
A March 2014 report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups exposed how the campaign uses themes and images sure to appeal to youth. With the slogan "Don’t be a Maybe. Be Marlboro," the ads feature images of attractive young people falling in love, playing music, partying, and taking risks.
WASHINGTON, DC — The proposed merger of the Reynolds American and Lorillard tobacco companies raises important questions that go beyond antitrust. It raises important public health issues as well because it would bring together two tobacco giants with a long history of marketing to kids and deceiving the public about the deadly consequences of their products. These companies sell two of the three most popular cigarette brands among U.S. youth (Lorillard's Newport and Reynolds' Camel) and the most popular smokeless tobacco brand among youth (Grizzly, made by Reynolds' American Snuff Company subsidiary).
WASHINGTON, DC – Design changes and chemical additives introduced by tobacco companies in recent decades have made cigarettes more addictive, more attractive to kids and even more deadly, according to a report issued today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The report, titled Designed for Addiction, details how tobacco companies purposely design cigarettes to make tobacco smoke smoother, less harsh and more appealing to new users, especially kids, and to create and sustain addiction to nicotine. Tobacco companies have made these changes without regard for the health impact and actually have increased smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer.
A new documentary from the BBC calls out Philip Morris International for its global marketing campaign promoting Marlboro cigarettes that has been found to target youth. The BBC report finds the "Be Marlboro" ad campaign is "aimed unashamedly at young people."
A report released in March by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups exposed how the "Be Marlboro" ads uses themes and images sure to appeal to youth. The ads have spread to more than 50 countries despite being banned by a German court for targeting teens.
The CDC's 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released on Thursday, had both good news and bad news. The good news: a big decline in cigarette smoking among high school students from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 15.7 percent in 2013.
The bad news: essentially no change in cigar smoking or smokeless tobacco use. In fact, high school boys now smoke cigars at the same rate as cigarettes (16.5 percent for cigars and 16.4 percent for cigarettes). Nearly a quarter of 12th grade boys (23 percent) smoke cigars, compared to 19.6 percent who smoke cigarettes. (Note: We’ll have more about smokeless tobacco in a later blog post.)
“Kids may be particularly vulnerable to trying e-cigarettes due to an abundance of fun flavors such as cherry, vanilla, pina-colada and berry.”
If that quote sounds like something a public health organization said (and many of us have expressed such concerns), think again. This particular quote is from the so-called “youth smoking prevention” web site of tobacco giant Lorillard, manufacturer of blu eCigs, the best-selling e-cigarette brand.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Monday issued a final order detailing how major U.S. cigarette manufacturers must publish “corrective statements” and finally tell the American people the truth about their deadly and addictive products. Judge Kessler first ordered the corrective statements in 2006 when she found the cigarette companies guilty of violating civil racketeering laws and lying to the public about the dangers of smoking and their marketing to children.
WASHINGTON, DC – Youth exposure to television ads for electronic cigarettes increased by 256 percent from 2011 to 2013, exposing 24 million U.S. kids to these ads, according to a study published today in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers predicted that “if current trends in e-cigarette television advertising continue, awareness and use of e-cigarettes are likely to increase among youth and young adults.”
Cigarettes and electronic cigarettes aren’t the only tobacco products being heavily advertised in magazines with large youth readerships.
So are smokeless tobacco products, especially now that the Skoal brand is again advertising in magazines for the first time since February 2009, according to the Trinkets & Trash website, which tracks tobacco advertising.