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FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Survey Shows Tobacco Ads Target Youth Smokers & Marlboro is Favorite

Newly released data from the 1999 Oklahoma Youth Tobacco Survey (OYTS) confirm the successful efforts by the tobacco industry to market their products to Oklahoma's youth. The survey indicates that youth in Oklahoma are more likely to smoke one of the three most heavily advertised brands: Marlboro, Camel or Newport. For middle and high school students in Oklahoma, most choose Marlboro.

The OYTS shows that three of five middle school smokers and three of four high school smokers usually smoke Marlboro. In middle school, boys are more likely to report use of Marlboro; however, in high school Marlboro brand is smoked at a higher rate by girls. White youth are more likely than Hispanic or American Indian youth to report usually smoking Marlboro brand.

More compelling is that approximately half of current youth smokers in Oklahoma would like to quit. Currently, 53 percent of high school girls that are currently smoking would like to quit and 42 percent of high school boys would also like to kick the habit. In middle school, 49 percent of girls would like to quit smoking and 50 percent of boys would like to quit. The newly released data also found that in the past 12 months, 57 percent of middle school students and 53 percent of high school students seriously tried to quit smoking.

Two new studies confirm the tobacco industry has increased advertising expenditures aimed at children since the master settlement agreement was signed in 1998. A study from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed a 33 percent increase in tobacco advertising in magazines with at least 15 percent youth readership. In the first nine months of 1999, Marlboro spent $26.1 million advertising in magazines with more than 15 percent youth readers. That is the more than any other single brand on the market spent in those nine months. Another study by the American Legacy Foundation found that eight of the top 10 advertised cigarette brands reached at least 70 percent of 12 to 17 year olds five or more times, which almost ensures their brand advertising will be memorable and impactful. In 1999, Marlboro advertising reached more than 89 percent of teens, ages 12 to 17, five or more times.

“The Philip Morris Company's so-called 'campaign' to prevent youngsters from smoking is just what you would expect,” says Dr. Robert Vincent, deputy commissioner, Oklahoma State Department of Health. “It's a 'smoke screen' to conceal their aggressive marketing tactics, like pitching Marlboro to kids.” Vincent said the tobacco industry spends an estimated $64 million to advertise and promote their products each year in Oklahoma.

Other findings of the OYTS include the following:

  • 42 percent of Oklahoma high school students and 21 percent of Oklahoma middle school students are current tobacco users.
  • One in six Oklahoma middle school students reported trying cigarettes for the first time before they were 11.
  • Among students who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, 76 percent of those in middle school and 82 percent of those in high school have tried to quit smoking at least once.
  • At least three of four adult smokers in Oklahoma became regular smokers as adolescents.
  • In Oklahoma, 26 percent of middle school students who have never smoked and 21 percent of high school students who have never smoked are susceptible to begin smoking in the next year.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health, in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and numerous other partners, conducted the OYTS. For a copy of the full report, please call the Office of Tobacco Use Prevention at 405-271-3619

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