Teens Still Exposed to Tobacco Ads Despite Advertising Restrictions
Despite restrictions imposed on tobacco advertising, young people are frequently exposed to high levels of tobacco promotion in retail stores, according to a new study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found that more than 90 percent of retail stores that sell tobacco products had some form of tobacco advertising including interior and exterior advertisements; self-service pack placement; multi-pack discounts; and tobacco-branded functional objects such as shopping carts, counter mats, or tobacco vending machines.
Overall, the report concludes that convenience, convenience/gas, and liquor stores were most likely to have "tobacco-friendly" environments where patrons would be highly exposed to tobacco advertisement, promotions, and tobacco branded objects in the stores. The study, done in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, indicates that 75 percent of teenagers shop at convenience or convenience/gas stores once a week or more.
"The pervasiveness of tobacco advertising in retail stores is weakening efforts to prevent adolescent smoking" said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the CDC. "Directly or indirectly, this highly visible advertising is encouraging a new generation of children to take up a deadly habit."
An estimated 80 percent of retailers had interior tobacco advertisements with 22.8 percent of stores having high levels of such ads. Exterior tobacco advertisements were observed in 58.9 percent of stores with 40.4 percent of stores having high levels of such ads. While tobacco control signs, such as "We Card" signs, were observed in 65.8 percent of stores, only 4.1 percent had tobacco health warning signs.
The study evaluated marketing trends within retail outlets where tobacco products are sold in 163 communities. Data collected on in-store tobacco product placement, promotions (discounts or gifts with purchase), tobacco-branded functional objects (free items provided to retailers such as shopping baskets and counter mats with tobacco brands on them), exterior and interior advertisements, and tobacco control signage.
Other findings of the study include:
Tobacco marketing expenditures increased from $6.7 billion in 1998 to $8.2 billion in 1999.
Overall, some form of advertisement (interior or exterior) was present in 84.1 percent of stores.
Self-service cigarette pack placement was observed in 36.4 percent of stores.
Multi-pack discounts were present in 25.2 percent of stores.
68.5 percent of stores had at least one tobacco-branded functional object (such as shopping baskets or counter change mats).
"This study shows that tobacco advertising in retail stores is much more visible to our youth than tobacco health warning information," said Rosemarie Henson, head of the CDC's smoking and health program. "Public health efforts need to include strategies to decrease youth exposure to tobacco products and tobacco advertising in retail stores where they shop, and to increase youth awareness of the terrible health consequences of using these products."
This study will appear in this week's issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. More information on tobacco control activities can be found at CDC's Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS) website at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.