New CDC Study Shows that Tobacco… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

New CDC Study Shows that Tobacco Industry Bombarded KidsWith Retail Store Marketing One Year After Promising Not to Target Kids

Statement by Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 07, 2002

Washington, DC — Despite agreeing as part of the 1998 state tobacco settlement to stop marketing to kids, the tobacco industry in 1999 — one year AFTER the settlement — saturated convenience stores and other retail outlets with advertising and promotions that influence kids, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study showed that fully 92 percent of the tobacco retailers surveyed nationwide in 1999 had some form of tobacco advertising or promotions, with convenience stores among the most “tobacco-friendly.” Such marketing is highly effective at reaching kids as prior research has demonstrated that 75 percent of teenagers visit convenience stores at least once a week. Today’s study shows that retail stores have become a major venue for the tobacco industry to market to kids in volumes that are shocking and disturbing. Rather than reducing their marketing expenditures following the state tobacco settlement, the tobacco industry redirected and increased these marketing dollars in order to continue luring the new youth customers they need as replacement smokers.

While this study did not address trends, the most recent Federal Trade Commission report on tobacco industry marketing documented record levels of cigarette advertising and promotion in 1999, especially at the retail level. Overall cigarette marketing increased by 22 percent from $6.7 billion in 1998 to $8.2 billion in 1999. Retail-level marketing increased even more, by 36 percent to $6.4 billion. This included a 23 percent increase in payments to stores for high-visibility tobacco product placements and a 65 percent increase in promotions such as buy one-get one free discounts and gifts with purchase.

Today’s study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s ImpacTeen project and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examined 3,031 retail outlets located in areas surrounding schools in 163 communities. It found that 59 percent of retail outlets displayed exterior tobacco advertisements, which in effect circumvent the tobacco settlement’s ban on tobacco billboard advertising. Eighty percent of retailers had interior tobacco advertisements. Nearly 43 percent had ads placed less than 3 ½ feet above the floor, a height most suitable for kids. About 36 percent had self-service displays that make cigarettes more accessible to kids and 25 percent had multi-pack discounts that make cigarettes more affordable for kids.

It is disturbing that the tobacco companies would continue and even increase this type of marketing that they know better than anyone reaches kids. It is also inconsistent with their public relations campaign claiming that they have changed. Internal industry documents demonstrate the importance that the tobacco companies place on reaching the youth market through the retail environment, to the point of targeting outlets near high schools and colleges. With tobacco promotion at saturation levels in these types of outlets, it’s no wonder that kids are nearly three times as likely as adults to recall tobacco advertising.

Today’s study shows yet again that the tobacco companies must be judged by their actions and not their words. Despite promising not to market to youth, they continue practices that directly attract youth to tobacco products.

If the tobacco industry were truly serious about keeping kids away from tobacco addiction, the industry would immediately curtail the huge expenditures it makes on point-of sale advertising and promotions that impact kids. The CDC study reinforces the urgent need for Congress to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration full and effective authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. FDA oversight would prevent the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children and reduce the number of American families that are devastated by the ravages of tobacco-related disease. The tobacco companies are still targeting our kids, and Congress must act to stop them.

(The CDC study can be found at