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New Magazine Readership Survey Confirms Tobacco Companies Still Advertising in Magazines with High Youth Readership

State Attorneys General Urged to Investigate Violation of State Tobacco Settlement
November 01, 2000

Washington, DC — A new survey of youth magazine readership being released today confirms that most major tobacco companies are continuing to advertise in magazines with high youth readership in possible violation of the 1998 legal settlement between the states and the tobacco companies. The Master Settlement Agreement prohibits the tobacco companies from 'taking any action, directly or indirectly, to target youth… in the advertising, promotion or marketing of tobacco products.'

The survey, by Simmons Market Research Bureau, a leading market research firm, found that 22 of 40 major magazines surveyed have at least 15 percent youth readership (12-17 years old) or greater than two million total youth readers, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

These 22 magazines included Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Sporting News, Hot Rod, Field & Stream, Entertainment Weekly, Car Craft, Mademoiselle, Motor Trend, and People, all of which have carried tobacco product advertising in recent issues.

Tobacco companies that have advertised recently in these magazines include Brown & Williamson, RJ Reynolds, and Lorillard. Philip Morris announced in June that it was suspending tobacco product advertising in magazines with at least 15 percent or greater than two million youth readers. Philip Morris acted after the state attorneys general initiated an investigation into a possible violation of the state settlement and after a Massachusetts Department of Public Health study showed that tobacco advertising in magazines with high youth readership had increased by 33 percent since the settlement.

The new Simmons survey addresses tobacco company criticisms of its methodology in earlier surveys by, for example, surveying adults and youth at the same time.

Matthew Myers, President of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, called on the tobacco companies to immediately stop advertising in magazines with high youth readership and for the state attorneys general to intensify their investigation if the tobacco companies do not act voluntarily.

'This survey removes any excuse the tobacco companies have given for continuing to advertise in magazines with large numbers or large percentages of youth readers,' Myers said. 'It gives the state attorneys general solid evidence to conclude their investigation into whether the tobacco companies are violating the Master Settlement Agreement and take action to stop this massive advertising targeting our children. This is a critical test of whether the Master Settlement Agreement's prohibition on targeting youth has any meaning.'

Brown & Williamson has stated that its policy is not to advertise in magazines with more than 15 percent youth readership, but the company has challenged the accuracy of Simmons research. R.J. Reynolds web site states, 'We do not want children to smoke, nor do we market this adult product to minors,' but the company has said it will not stop advertising in magazines with more than 15 percent or two million youth readers.