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Tobacco Companies Still Targets Children

Tobacco Marketing Increased About 67% in Three Years, FTC Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- June 20, 2003 -- The major cigarette companies increased their marketing expenses to $11.22 billion in 2001, according to the annual Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on cigarette promotions and sales. This represents a one-year increase of 17 percent from the $9.59 billion spent in 2000. It is also a 66.6 percent increase in the first three years after the tobacco companies agreed to stop some aspects of their marketing as part of the November 1998 legal settlement with the states.

The settlement restricted some forms of marketing aimed at reaching children, such as billboards and event sponsorships. However, the tobacco companies have increased spending in other ways that appeal to children, such as store displays, price discounts that make cigarettes more affordable, and free gifts with purchases. The FTC report found that in 2001, tobacco industry spending for store displays and similar promotions increased by 13.8 percent to $4.45 billion, and by 37.9 percent to $4.76 billion for price promotions and gift giveaways.

"[The] FTC report underscores the need for Congress to enact legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration effective authority to regulate tobacco products, including the authority to restrict marketing that appeals to children," said William V. Corr, Executive Vice President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "...the tobacco companies spend more on marketing in a single day ($30.7 million) than all but three states (California, New York and Pennsylvania) currently spend in an entire year on tobacco prevention."

Addicted to Tobacco at a Young Age

Studies show that 75 percent of teens shop at convenience stores at least once a week, and they are more likely than adults to be influenced by convenience store tobacco promotions such as two-for-one offers and gifts with purchases (Big Tobacco Still Addicting Kids). One report showed how tobacco marketing can undermine the influence of strict parents who are trying to teach their children not to smoke.

In the United States, 34.5 percent of high school students use tobacco (Centers for Disease Control, Tobacco Use Among Youth), and 90 percent of all smokers nationwide began the habit before the age of 18 (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Tobacco Use Among Youth). About 4.5 million young adults under the age of 18 now smoke. Unless we find ways to reverse current trends, more than 6.4 million children alive today will eventually die from smoking-related illnesses.

Getting Information About Tobacco

For very useful suggestions about how parents can help prevent their children from smoking, see an article on the Tobacco-Free Kids web site. For more information about the health implications of smoking, see health benefits of smoking cessation, and nicotine addiction and side effects.

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