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FOR RELEASE: June 26, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Report Shows Tobacco Marketing Increased to Record Level in Oklahoma

Tobacco industry marketing and promotional expenditures in Oklahoma have increased 17 percent to a record $136 million-or an average of more than $370,000 every day-based on the latest annual report on cigarettes marketing and sales released recently by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“Though tobacco company spending now dwarfs what we spend by over 40 to 1, we’re committed to using the limited resources provided in our state to effectively counter the tobacco industry’s unprecedented marketing efforts in Oklahoma,” said Doug Matheny, chief of the Tobacco Use Prevention Service at the state health department.

Nationally, the new FTC report found that tobacco marketing increased 17 percent in 2001 over the previous year to $11.2 billion, or $30.7 million every day. Since the November 1998 legal settlement with the tobacco industry - in which the industry promised to stop marketing to youth - tobacco marketing expenditures have gone up 66.6 percent.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Oklahoma and the nation. Every year, tobacco use kills about 6,000 Oklahoma residents and costs Oklahoma over $2.2 billion in direct and indirect health care expenditures. Although about half have tried to quit within the last year, 24 percent of Oklahoma high school students and 26.6 percent of Oklahoma adults are still current smokers.

The FTC report found that the greatest increases in cigarette advertising and promotional spending were in the areas of “promotional allowances,” which include payments to retailers for displaying and merchandising cigarette brands in stores, and “retail value added,” which includes price promotions (like “buy one, get one free” offers) and gift giveaways such as T-shirts and lighters. Together, these two categories accounted for 82 percent of tobacco advertising and promotional expenditures in 2001, underscoring the tobacco industry’s increasing reliance on store promotions and price discounts to market its products.

“Store promotions are an effective way of reaching teens and price discounts make cigarettes more affordable to children, who have less disposable income than adults,” said Matheny. “Over the past two years, the cigarette companies have continued to increase their spending on price discounts in an effort to undermine substantial cigarette tax increases in most states, which are a proven way to reduce smoking among both children and adults.”

The FTC report can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/06/2001cigreport.pdf.

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