Teen Girls Drawn to Cigarette Ads in Fashion Mags

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Do pink cigarette ads target teen girls?

Move over Marlboro Man: Camel No. 9 is here, and he's garnered the attention of the "Gossip Girl" crowd.

Cigarette manufacturer RJ Reynolds took its campaign into the heart of chic-girl culture, and ran ads for the pink camel-bearing brand in magazines that are teen faves such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Glamour. Some of the ads resemble magazine fashion pages. A new study published in the April issue of Pediatrics shows the approach grabbed the attention of teens.

"This follows on early work we did in the '90s," the study's lead author, John Pierce, the Sam M. Walton professor for Cancer Prevention at the University of California San Diego, tells ParentDish. "We demonstrated they were targeting kids, and they've done it again."

Between 2003 and 2008, researchers from UCSD and the American Legacy Foundation tracked more than 1,000 adolescent boys and girls to see if they could name the brand of their favorite cigarette advertisement. The kids were all between 10 and 13 years of age when the survey began, Pediatrics says.
Researchers conducted five sequential telephone interviews with the subjects in which they were asked what brand was represented in their favorite cigarette ad. In the first four studies, the rate of those who had a favorite ad remained stable. But after the 2007 release of Camel No. 9, which was accompanied by the fashion-themed magazine ads, the number of girls reporting a favorite brand spiked by 10 percentage points, to 44 percent, with Camel accounting almost entirely for the increase, according to the study.

The kids who reported having a favorite brand in their first interview were 50 percent more likely to have started smoking by the fifth interview, Pediatrics reports. The teenage years are particularly critical because 80 percent of smokers in the United States took their first puff before they turned 18, Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation and a co-author of the study, tells ParentDish.

The manufacturer of Camel, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, denies it targets teens.

"Camel No. 9 was developed in response to female adult smokers who were asking for a product that better reflected their taste, preferences and styles," RJRT spokesman David Howard tells ParentDish. "The bottom line is that minors should never use tobacco products."

The RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, which manufacturers Camel, stopped running ads in print publications in 2008, Howard says.

Related: Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Weight

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