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New Study Contradicts Tobacco Industry Claims that Cigarette Advertising Does Not Cause Kids to Smoke

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 13, 2002

Washington, DC — A new national study being published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine finds that cigarette marketing influences kids to smoke, especially in making non-smoking kids susceptible to experimenting with cigarettes. This study provides some of the most powerful evidence to date contradicting the tobacco industry's oft-stated claim that its billion-dollar marketing barrage does not play any role in the decisions of young people to start smoking, but rather influences only brand preferences of current smokers. This new study shows clearly that cigarette marketing often lays the groundwork for smoking initiation by kids and tobacco industry claims otherwise are either misguided or deliberate lies.

Related Materials

New national study shows cigarette marketing influences kids:

Article: Predictors of Change on the Smoking Uptake Continum Among Adolescents

(Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine)

Errata Sheet

Journal Release: Many Adolescents Who Don't Smoke Are Susceptible to Starting; Tobacco Advertising and Promotions, Exposure to Others Smoking Among Risk Factors Associated with Progression Toward Smoking

The tobacco companies spend nearly $9.6 billion a year – $26.2 million a day – to market their deadly products, according to a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission. The new study of more than 17,000 adolescents across the country paints an alarming picture of the influence this marketing has on kids most vulnerable to becoming smokers. The study examines the association between various risk factors and the likelihood of a child becoming a regular smoker. It finds that factors influencing whether an adolescent smokes include tobacco advertising and promotion, smoking by family members and peers, poor school performance, skipping school, and lack of religious attendance. However, tobacco advertising and promotion – defined as having a favorite cigarette advertisement, owning a tobacco promotional item, or both – was the most influential risk factor in making non-smoking kids susceptible to experimenting with cigarettes.

This research should spur policy makers to act to restrict and counter tobacco marketing that impacts kids. It bolsters the need for Congress to enact legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration effective authority over tobacco products, including authority to prohibit such marketing. The Administration should also aggressively pursue the federal government's lawsuit against the tobacco industry, which has the potential to bring about fundamental change in the industry's harmful practices. The tobacco industry in its filings in the lawsuit continues to deny that its marketing causes young people to start smoking, indicating that it will not change its practices unless forced to. At the state level, elected officials must adequately fund comprehensive tobacco prevention programs that include effective messages to counter the tobacco ads that our kids are exposed to every day.

Some 5,000 kids try their first cigarette every day. Another 2,000 kids become regular smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result. The new study shows the powerful role of tobacco advertising in moving kids down this deadly path. We have proven solutions to protect our kids. Our elected officials need the political will to implement them.