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Campaign Challenges Philip Morris To Match Rhetoric With Action And Stop Advertising In Magazines With High Youth Readership

New PM Ad Claims the Company Now Markets “Responsibly”; Evidence Shows Marketing to Kids Continues
February 17, 2000

Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today challenged Philip Morris to match its rhetoric with action and stop all advertising in magazines with high youth readership.

In a new advertising campaign launched in The Washington Post today, Philip Morris claimed it is a changed company and that its goal is “to responsibly market our products to adults who choose to smoke.” On its own web site, Philip Morris claims that “cigarette brand advertising does not appear in publications directed primarily to those under 21 years of age.”

But this rhetoric is not matched by action. Philip Morris continues to advertise in magazines with high youth readership, including Sports Illustrated, People, Rolling Stone, Inside Sports, Hot Rod, Glamour, Vibe, Sport, Motor Trend, Spin, Mademoiselle and others. All of these magazines have youth readership (12 to 17 years old) totaling more than two million or more than 15 percent of the magazine’s overall readership, according to data obtained from Simmons Market Research Bureau, an independent market research firm (data attached).

The CAMPAIGN today unveiled its own ad headlined “Big Tobacco’s Latest Double Talk.” The ad points out that while Philip Morris tells policy makers it supports youth tobacco prevention, Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies continue to spend $15.5 million a day – $5.6 billion a year – on marketing their deadly products, much of it in magazines and other venues that impact kids. The ad points out that almost nine out of 10 adult smokers were addicted as kids. It concludes: “Don’t believe Big Tobacco. They’re still addicting kids.” (The CAMPAIGN’s ad is attached.)

“Policy makers need to beware of Philip Morris’ double talk and judge the company by its actions, not its rhetoric,” said CAMPAIGN President Matthew L. Myers. “At the same time that Philip Morris is telling policy makers that it is concerned about the problem of underage smoking, it is spending billions of dollars a year to send kids a different message: smoking is cool and glamorous. Philip Morris’ intent is clear: To create the image of change in order to block the real change that is needed to restrict cigarette marketing and sales to kids.

“Philip Morris’ duplicity underscores the need for Congress to support real restrictions on cigarette company marketing to kids and for states to invest tobacco settlement dollars in comprehensive tobacco prevention programs,” Myers said.

The CAMPAIGN challenged Philip Morris to cease all advertising in magazines with high youth readership or, at the very least, to abide by the magazine advertising provisions of the June 1997 settlement between the tobacco companies and the states. Philip Morris was a party to that agreement, which limited ads in newspapers and magazines with high youth readership to black and white text only.

The CAMPAIGN also outlined other steps Philip Morris can take to show it is serious about reducing youth smoking:

  • Stop all marketing practices that appeal to and reach kids. In addition to magazine advertising, this includes in-store advertising in convenience stores and other retail outlets frequented by children and sponsorship of events that can be attended by children or are broadcast on radio or television.
  • End its opposition to reasonable regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and drop its lawsuit against the FDA.
  • Revise its “anti-youth smoking” advertising to include the truth – that cigarette smoking kills and is addictive.
  • Take action to reduce the ease with which kids illegally obtain cigarettes, including allowing its products to be sold only in stores that place cigarettes behind the counter and eliminating vending machine, Internet and direct mail sales of cigarettes.