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Tobacco Companies Targeting Teens, Study Says
Date:2/12/2009

Marketing aims to get them to smoke and choose certain brands, experts note

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Tobacco company ads are reaching teenagers and influencing their desire to smoke and what brands they choose, U.S. health officials report.

"We are continuing to find that Marlboro, Newport and Camel brands, among the most heavily advertised brands, continue to be overwhelmingly the preferred brands of cigarettes smoked by middle school and high-school students," said Terry F. Pechacek, associate director for science in the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The industry will deny that they are marketing to underage youth, but our data are showing that the advertising is still reaching the kids," Pechacek said.

A spokesman for one of the tobacco companies defended its marketing program. "Kids should not use tobacco products of any kind," said Philip Morris USA spokesman David Sutton. "We take youth access to tobacco products seriously."

"We have made a significant effort, both at retail and marketing, to connect only to adult smokers," Sutton added.

The brand preferences in the report mirrors what is seen in the marketplace among adult smokers, Sutton said. "If you look at those preferences, they line up with market share among adult tobacco consumers," he said.

Each of the major cigarette companies in the United States has a leading youth brand, Pechacek said. "Industry documents show that all the tobacco companies are continuing to note that if they don't have a leading youth brand, they are in corporate trouble," he said.

Marlboro is marketed by Philip Morris, Camel is made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Newport is from Lorillard Inc.

The report, in the Feb. 13 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that 78 percent of middle school students and 87 percent of h
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