Marketing tobacco to young teens on the rise

By on April 3, 2003

With packs of cigarettes costing $5 and over, it should not be of surprise that the tobacco industry can afford to spend $258 million dollars each year on advertising. But wait. In New England alone that $258 million is spent on tobacco marketing.

Across the country over $5 billion is spent each year promoting tobacco products. That amount equals $14 million each day spent on marketing. What makes these numbers scarier is tobacco industry documents have proven children as young as 13 are often used as a key market.

Connecticut ranks second in the New England region behind Massachusetts with the estimated amount spent on marketing tobacco products, according to the American Cancer Society. The tobacco industry spends $119 million marketing in Massachusetts, $63 million in Connecticut, $24 million to Maine, $22 million in New Hampshire, $19 million in Rhode Island, and $11 million in Vermont.

But these numbers may look just like figures to many. While its not money you’ll spend, its money an industry spends trying to sell you a product which will leave you with less then healthy lungs and overall health if the habit continues though your life.

With 30% of college students on each campus nationwide considered smokers the marketing of cigarettes could have encouraged you or a friend to begin the habit.

The young adult market aged 14- 24 represents tomorrow’s cigarette and the age of smokers who will likely smoke for the next 25 years if undetermined to quit.

The Truth campaign, whose goal in its magazine and television ads along with on its website is to educate minors about the dangers or smoking and disclose the truths behind the tobacco industry, says 88% of people who have tried smoking have done so before they turn 18.

While each day the tobacco industry looses thousands of customers to death, each day it also gets 3,000 new customers who are underage. In a legal agreement the tobacco industry recently made an agreement to end their marketing efforts towards minors.

No longer is the tobacco industry allowed to place ads in teen marketed magazines. Then again what stops a teen from reading something such as Rolling Stone or Cosmopolitan when cover stories are actually targeted towards them, while the magazine feels it markets an older crowd.

The tobacco industry frequently sponsors bar nights, concerts, among other activities aimed to college students. The fact of 30% of college students smoking also should not be a surprise especially since current college students are the ones who watched the ads of Marlboro Man and Joe Camel. Kids looked to them as “friendly” figures in the same light Mickey Mouse is looked at.

What students in a Quinnipiac upper level marketing course a few semesters ago did was develop marketing campaigns to get students here to kick the habit. On the reverse end of trying to get people on our age range to start smoking, students for this project where to find ways to get students to quit.

Dr. Ronald Rozett was a guest in a marketing class along with the client and judge of ideas students proposed to help the campus become smoke free. In projects he kept students detailed having a smoke-out day only for the Quinnipiac community, T-shirts promoting the nasty effects of smoking and reasons to quit along with promoting ways to quit though campus media.

Students often recommended tobacco products stop being sold on campus and direct mailing be sent to encourage kicking the habit.

While a quit smoking marketing campaign may be something students aren’t actively pursing in the manner used for their projects, there is a Quit Smoking Committee on campus composed of faculty, staff, students, and those from organizations such as the American Cancer Society, who are looking to educate students to kick the habit.

During the week of March 17, the Justice Department demanded the nation’s biggest cigarette makers forfeit close to $300 billion in profits from a half of century of dangerous marketing practices.

By manipulating nicotine levels, lying about tobacco dangers, and directing advertising at children, the Justice Department has found cigarette companies running a criminal industry.

Next time you drive down the highway or flip through a magazine just think about how many children may be seeing that same thing. You were a child once.

If you are a smoker or were you might understand the influence even the most unrealistic ads had on you thinking in reality as a child that smoking is as good as a camera or cartoon made it out to be.

While the tobacco industry makes up profits from their marketing campaigns, the next young person to start smoking is only allowing their body to far from profit from this product.


About Melissa Scagliola