Cigarette Ad May Have Targeted Teen Girls
Survey Suggests Camel No. 9 Ads in Magazines Caught the Attention of Teenage Girls
WebMD News Archive
March 15, 2010 -- A Camel cigarette ad may have targeted teenage girls, an
antismoking group claims.
In a national survey of teens conducted soon after ads for the R.J. Reynolds
brand Camel No. 9 appeared in leading women's magazines, 44% of the girls could
name a favorite brand, based on advertising. Their average age was 15.
In previous surveys, about 10% fewer girls named a favorite cigarette
advertisement. The increase in the latest survey was almost exclusively for the
The landmark 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between states'
attorneys general and the tobacco industry prohibits all tobacco marketing
aimed at children and teens.
Since the agreement, the smoking rate among teens has dropped dramatically,
from 35% to about 20%.
R.J. Reynolds strongly denies marketing to teens, but longtime tobacco
trends researcher John P. Pierce, PhD, who led the survey, disagrees.
His research was funded by the antismoking group American Legacy Foundation
and the National Cancer Institute. It appears online today in
"The MSA has worked. Smoking among kids is way down," he tells WebMD. "But
the industry, and Reynolds in particular, is out there doing what they can to
get people to start smoking, and they are targeting teens."
The ads for Camel No. 9 began soon after the brand was launched early in
One shows a classic little black dress surrounded by high-fashion
accessories; it was juxtaposed with images of cigarettes packaged in
patent-leather black, bordered in magenta or teal.
Another ad shows the magenta-regular and teal-menthol cigarette packs
surrounded by flowers, with the tag line reading "light and luscious."
The ads ran briefly in 10 national magazines, including Glamour,
Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and InStyle.
According to the antismoking group Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the
brand's launch also included special-event giveaways including berry-flavored
lip balm, cell phone jewelry and Rocker Girl wristbands.
Before the marketing campaign, no more than 13% of girls in the survey group
who expressed a preference chose Camel as their favorite cigarette advertising.
In the months after the Camel No. 9 ads ran, 21% identified Camel as their
favorite brand, based on advertising.
"The claim that [tobacco companies] aren't marketing to teens is just
patently untrue," says Pierce, who is a professor at the University of
California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. "Would anyone really believe that
berry-flavored lip balm would be intended for a 50-year-old?"