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Youth & Tobacco Advertising
Tobacco Ads

Although many factors appear to influence youth's decision to begin smoking (e.g. presence of parents who smoke, having friends who smoke, low self-esteem), scholars and heath officials are beginning to recognize the contributing role played by advertising. One recent study concluded, "Adolescences with high exposure to cigarette advertising were significantly more likely to be smokers than were those with low exposure to cigarette advertising".


Whom are tobacco ads aimed rowards?

Tobacco ads aren't aimed at grandma. Camel cash, the Marlboro Adventure Team, and Virginia Super Slims are all designed to attract youth. The tobacco industry thinks youth are stupid. They manipulate and play with your minds so they can get richer.
The tobacco industry spent 4.65 billion dollars in 1991 - the equivalent of 12 million dollars every day, or $500,000 an hour to advertise and promote cigarettes. Increasingly, these dollars are going toward promotional activities that appeal to young people, such as sponsorship of public entertainment, distribution of special items bearing product names, and the issuing of coupons and premiums. Tobacco promotions of televised sporting and entertainment events heavily expose large numbers of youth to pro-smoking messages. Tobacco companies spend for specialty gift items (such as T-shirts, caps, sunglasses, key chains, calendars, and sporting goods) bearing a cigarette logo. Tobacco companies pay a lot of money to have their products placed in movies.

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How do advertisements affct youth's decisions?

Early adolescence is a key point at which youth abandon their previously held commitments to abstain from smoking. Why should this be the case? One reason is that adolescence is a time of upheaval in identify development. In particular, physical, cognitive, and social changes that occur during this period often lead to fluctuations in youth's self-image. As part of this identity formation process, youth question who they really are and investigate the kind of person they would like to become. Youth are heavy users of all forms of media, emphasizing the importance of media in identity formation. Media play an importance role in providing information to youth regarding gender roles, occupations, and political values. Specifically media, and advertisers in particular, participate in the socialization of youth by promoting certain values, beliefs, and activities. Therefore, it is understandable that print cigarette advertising should influence youth's decision whether to smoke.

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Why tobacco companies want youth as new customers?

About 90% of smokers start by the time they are 18. The companies know that if they don't get kids to light up while they are young, they most likely never will.
Children are so important to the tobacco industry that they've done research on them using hidden cameras, interviews, and psychological tests to find ways to get them to smoke.

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How do tobacco companies trap youth?

  • They pay store owners to keep tobacco products on or in front of the counter, so that they are easy for youth to get.
  • They pay actors, and actresses to smoke on the screen. The companies trick youth into thinking that smoking is cool and that most people light up. They want youth to think, "If so many people smoke, how can it be bad for you?" (The truth is about 24 adults out of every one hundred smoke.)
  • They provide youth with promotional items like lighters, hats, and shirts. (About 50% of youth who smoke, own some type of promotional item.)
  • Their advertisements are directed to youth and can be found everywhere....in magazines, street corners, inside stores and on their windows. (Te tobacco companies place most of their ads in locations that are close to junior and senior high schools.)
  • They contribute large sums of money to our legislators.
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    © Copyright 2000 Fang Liu. All rights reserved.
    Last updated: November 28, 2000.