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Cigarette Ad May Have Targeted Teen Girls

Survey Suggests Camel No. 9 Ads in Magazines Caught the Attention of Teenage Girls

Teens Who Are Exposed to Tobacco Ads

In an earlier study, Pierce and colleagues found that nonsmoking 12- to 15-year-olds who were receptive to tobacco advertising were more likely to smoke six years later than those not exposed to tobacco ads.

American Legacy Foundation President and CEO Cheryl Healton says the new survey shows how quickly even limited advertising can reach adolescents.

In a statement issued in response to the survey, R.J. Reynolds maintains the Camel No. 9 ads appeared exclusively in magazines in which at least 85% of the readership was 18 or older.

But Healton calls the assertion "disingenuous."

"That remaining15% represents a lot of teen girls," she says. "Teen girls don't necessarily read only magazines that target them. In fact, just the opposite is true."

She points to the 2008 demise of CosmoGirl, Cosmopolitan's spin-off aimed at teen girls.

"I believe it failed because teenaged girls want to read Cosmo," she says. "They want to feel grown up."

R.J. Reynolds Responds

R.J. Reynolds contends the company's cigarette marketing is in full compliance with the MSA agreement and does not target teens.

"Camel No. 9 was developed in response to female adult smokers, both of Camel and of competitive brands, who were asking for a product that better reflected their taste preferences and style," the statement reads.

The statement notes that it is not clear if the teens participating in the survey had even seen the Camel No. 9 ads.

R.J. Reynolds also refutes claims that Camel's market share increased sharply after the launch of Camel No. 9s, noting that the overall market share for the brand actually declined slightly between 2007 and 2009.

"Since its launch in 2007, Camel No. 9 has never had more than a 0.60% share of the cigarette market," the statement reads.

Finally, the statement points out that R.J. Reynolds has not run print advertising for any of its cigarette brands for more than two years and that there has been no in-store advertising for Camel No. 9 since 2008.

Selling Cigarettes to Women

While no cigarette manufacturer has admitted to targeting advertising to teens, the industry has a long history of marketing to women, starting in the mid-1920s when an ad for the Lucky Strike brand told females worried about their waistlines to "Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet."

Before this time, only about 5% of American women smoked. About 20% of women in the U.S. now smoke, down from its peak in the 1970s.

Healton points out that tobacco kills 174,000 women in the U.S. each year and that far more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer.

"If teen girls don't start smoking, the tobacco industry's business model collapses," she says. "Eighty percent of women who smoke start before the age of 18 and 90% start before age 20."

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