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New Report Out Today: 1.4 million kids try their first cigarette each year


Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man may be gone – but did you know that tobacco companies have found new ways to market to kids? 

Today is Kick Butts Day, and the new report, "Warning to Parents: How Big Tobacco Targets Kids Today," from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is out and available here. The report shows how tobacco companies are now spending more than $10 billion a year to promote their deadly and addictive products, and details how they continue to entice and addict America’s kids. There is also a brand-new video that shows the impact of these efforts.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s report on tobacco, released earlier this month, found that tobacco companies spend more than one million dollars every hour – $10 billion a year – to market cigarettes and other products.  I wanted to bring this health-related, tobacco-focused post to your attention. It may be a good fit for your site. It’s alarming that 443,000 Americans die from tobacco use and 1.4 million kids try their first cigarette each year.

So how is the tobacco industry marketing to kids today? Four recent trends in youth tobacco marketing include:

  • Heavy advertising and discounting of tobacco products in stores frequented by kids:  Such marketing makes tobacco products appealing and affordable to teens, two-thirds of whom visit a convenience store at least once a week. Since the 1998 tobacco settlement, tobacco advertising and promotions have soared in convenience stores and other retail outlets.
  • Increased marketing of smokeless tobacco products, and introduction of new products that look, taste and are packaged like candy.  With smoking on the decline and restricted in most public places, tobacco companies have nearly tripled smokeless tobacco marketing since 1998 and introduced new candy-like products that appeal to kids.
  • Proliferation of cheap, sweet-flavored “little cigars”: The tobacco industry has introduced a growing number of cigarette-sized cigars with sweet flavors, colorful packaging and cheap prices, which makes them appealing to children.
  • Brand extensions of cigarette brands most popular with kids: More than 80 percent of youth smokers prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands. Tobacco companies have introduced numerous cigarette brand extensions and even smokeless tobacco products that carry these same brand names. 

On March 21, thousands of young people will come together nationwide for the 17th annual Kick Butts Day. Kids will demand that tobacco companies stop targeting them and urge elected officials to protect them from these lethal products.

For more information, visit www.tobaccofreekids.org. I’m reaching out on behalf of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

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