Ads Make Kids Smoke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Advertisements launched by the tobacco
industry to limit teen smoking may actually make them want to
smoke more, researchers and anti-smoking activists said on Wednesday.
The ads seem to appeal to the contrary nature of many teens, and
are "distinctly counter" to expert findings that directly telling
teens not to smoke only encourages them, a report published in the
American Journal of Public Health finds.
They urged Philip Morris Cos Inc. to drop its "Think. Don't
Smoke" campaign, and said their own approach seemed to work better
to discourage adolescents from smoking.
"The Philip Morris campaign is only intensifying the tobacco
epidemic the country finds itself in today, and we will continue
to work with (the American Legacy Foundation) and others to address
this important public health issue," Dr. Mohammad Akhter, executive
director of American Public Health Association, which publishes
the journal, said in a statement.
Philip Morris said it would consider the criticisms.
"Philip Morris U.S.A.'s Youth Smoking Prevention department
will review the study and supporting data and then seek a meeting
with the American Legacy Foundation to learn more about their
methodology and conclusions as well as to discuss ways we can
work together toward our common goal of preventing youth smoking,"
Howard Willard, senior vice president for youth smoking prevention
at the company, said in a statement.
"We are very interested in reviewing the American Legacy Foundation's
study to see if any changes to our approach are warranted."
SURVEY OF 18,000 TEENS
The researchers, led by Matthew Farrelly at the Research Triangle
Institute in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, surveyed
nearly 18,000 young men and women aged 12 to 24 in late 1999 and
Philip Morris's "Think. Don't Smoke" campaign began in 1998,
and the American Legacy Foundation's "Truths" campaign had been
running for 10 months.
The "Truths" campaign seemed to be working, the researchers
said. "Whereas exposure to the 'Truths' campaign positively changed
youths' attitudes toward tobacco, the Philip Morris campaign had
a counterproductive influence," they wrote.
"Philip Morris's 'Think. Don't Smoke' effort parades as a youth
anti-smoking campaign, but it's really a wolf in sheep's clothing,"
Cheryl Healton, president and chief executive officer of Legacy,
said. "Philip Morris should pull its 'Think. Don't Smoke' ads
off the air."
William Corr, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free
Kids, added, "Instead of reducing youth smoking, they insidiously
encourage kids to use tobacco and become addicted Philip Morris
Legacy was founded with funds from the tobacco industry as part
of the $246 billion 1998 agreement between states and tobacco
companies they were suing.
Its "Truths" campaign included a television ad in which a man-sized
rat crawls from the subway to make the point that rat poison and
cigarettes both contain cyanide.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention credits the
campaign, along with tighter laws restricting children's access
to tobacco and higher taxes on cigarettes, with cutting teen smoking
rates. It says less than 29% of high school students admitted
they had smoked in the previous month in 2001, down from 34.8%
The Federal Trade Commission reported this month that the six
largest cigarette manufacturers spent $9.57 billion on advertising
and promotions in 2000, a 16.2% increase over 1999.
Reference Source 89