Cigarette Companies – Still Not Playing By The Rules?

The NY Times today covers an interesting advertising campaign on the part of Camel that is raising eyebrows.  Roni Caryn Rabin writes:

Though R.J. Reynolds, the company that makes the cigarettes, pulled the ads in 2008, a new study says they had a big effect on teenage girls. The ads bore a striking resemblance to fashion spreads and ran in women’s magazines like Glamour and US Weekly, which are popular among teenagers. They offered promotional giveaway items like berry lip balm – and cellphone jewelry.


While the ad campaign was going on in 2007 and 2008, 44 percent of teenage girls said they had a favorite cigarette ad – up from less than one-third in 2003. Those who said Camel was their favorite ad doubled, from 10 to 13 percent to 21.5 percent, even while Marlboro’s popularity held steady.

“There was no such increase in brand awareness among boys, which strongly suggests it was the Camel No. 9 brand — the girl brand — that did it,” said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, president of the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing youngsters from smoking and one of the authors of the paper.

Camel seems to be pushing the maxim “any publicity is good publicity” here.  They are explicitly not allowed to target youth, and of course in the US people under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase cigarettes.  But tempting youngsters is a tempting prospect to the giant corporations – why not corner a new market?  As the study above suggests, that is exactly what Camel did – to 174,000 girls under the age of 18.

For parents, this signals business as usual from cigarette companies.  As always, vigilance is required.  If you want to know for sure that your child is not smoking cigarettes, purchase an inexpensive nicotine test and you will be able to find out.  Even as restrictions tighten, cigarette companies seem to have little trouble finding ways to broaden their consumer base.


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  2. Marie says:

    Thanks for the update. I have mentioned to my teenage son the particular ad campaigns targeted at younger people, i.e. “Joe the Camel” and was unaware of this particular ad campaign. The tobacco companies sicken me. I have even advised my financial planners for many years now NOT to invest my finances in any funds that have any tobacco holdings.