"When Camel No. 9 was launched in 2007, all magazine advertisements for it appeared in publications whose readership was at least 85 percent age 18 or older," the statement continued. "More importantly, R.J. Reynolds has not run any print advertising for cigarettes, including Camel No. 9, for more than two years, and there has been no in-store advertising for Camel No. 9 since 2008."
The study, published online March 15 in the journal Pediatrics, includes data from the fifth telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of teenagers that was designed to assess whether cigarette ads run after the tobacco settlement had any effect on adolescents.
The first survey was done in 2003 when the 1,036 children were 10 to 13 years old. The fifth survey was done in 2008.
The researchers found that, for boys, the proportion who had a favorite cigarette ad remained stable throughout the five surveys. For girls, however, there was a marked difference in the last study.
During the first four surveys, the number of girls who could identify a favorite tobacco ad remained about the same. But, during the last survey, which was conducted after the start of the Camel No. 9 campaign, the proportion of girls who had a favorite ad jumped by 10 percentage points, to 44 percent. The Camel brand was responsible for most of that increase, according to the study.
During the first four surveys, 10 percent to 13 percent of the girls said that Camel was their favorite ad. In the fifth survey, the number rose to 21.5 percent, the study reported.
"This article presents credible evidence that the Camel No. 9 cigarette advertising campaign has targeted underaged girls," the researchers wrote.
Targeted advertising, Pierce said, can be very hard for parents to counter. "Parents can try to focus on the issue
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