Embargoed Until:
September 30, 2008
10:00 a.m. Eastern Time



Christopher Fleming

Youth Exposure To Tobacco Advertising In Magazines Has Decreased Since Settlement Between States And Manufacturers

Good News Is Tempered By Increases In Advertising For Brands Favored By Young Americans

Bethesda, MD -- Youth exposure to magazine advertising for tobacco products has decreased as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), a legal agreement between state attorneys general and major tobacco companies, according to an article by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health published today on the Health Affairs Web site. http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.27.6.w503

Annual spending for tobacco advertising in magazines decreased by 77 percent in the eight years after the MSA was signed, declining from $402.1 million in 1998 to $91.9 million in 2006, the Harvard researchers say. In the early post-MSA years, manufacturers continued to direct their advertising to publications with substantial readership among those under age 18, so that young Americans were disproportionately exposed to tobacco ads. However, that trend gradually reversed: From 2002 on, young Americans were proportionally less exposed to tobacco advertising than their adult counterparts in every year save 2004.

The news was not all good, however, the researchers say. Since the MSA, tobacco advertising has migrated to publications with lower shares of youth readership, but manufacturers have concentrated their advertising in brands disproportionately purchased by young smokers. Major cigarette manufacturers reduced the number of brand families that they advertised in magazines from eighteen in 2001 to four in 2006. Three of those four brands -- Camel, Kool, and Newport -- are favored by young smokers. Tobacco manufacturers have increased advertising of sub-brands and brand varieties such as mentholated and flavored cigarettes, which are also favored by younger smokers, and advertising for smokeless tobacco products has increased as well.

"Exposure to tobacco ads has resulted in increased smoking among young people, so the MSA, coupled with enforcement of that agreement through subsequent litigation, has helped reduce the exposure of young Americans to tobacco advertising. However, total cigarette advertising and promotional spending has increased and youth smoking is unacceptably high, while youth continue to be exposed to advertising in magazines and through other channels," said lead author Hillel Alpert, Research Associate in the Division of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He added, "A comprehensive ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products, as recommended by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, could accomplish more: Countries that have enacted such bans have recorded the lowest tobacco consumption and the greatest declines in tobacco consumption."

Alpert and coauthors Howard Koh and Gregory Connolly note that legislation pending in Congress would give the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco products and restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.

After the embargo lifts, the article by Alpert and coauthors will be available at http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.27.6.w503


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at www.healthaffairs.org. The full text of each Health Affairs Web Exclusive is available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it will switch to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


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