May 21, 2010

Camel No. 9 Campaign a Favorite Among Teen Girls

Disturbing New Data Reveal Teens More Likely to Smoke as a Result Washington, D.C. – A new study by the University of California at San Diego and Legacy shows that the 2007 R.J. Reynolds’ cigarette campaign, Camel No. 9, may have been effective in encouraging young girls to start smoking.

The study, being released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, looked at teens’ responsiveness to different tobacco marketing campaigns over the past five years and concluded that even after legal restrictions in the Master Settlement Agreement prohibited the targeting of teens through advertising, teens continued to be responsive to tobacco marketing and those who were receptive to it were 50 percent more likely to start smoking as a result.

“R.J. Reynolds is the same company that brought the American people Joe Camel, which at one time was recognizable to 90 percent of six year olds,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. The release of this new research coincides with Women’s History Month and underscores the fact that the tobacco industry first began to aggressively market to women in the 1920s and continues to do so today. “While tobacco marketing campaigns have been targeting young women for 90 years, this research shows that sadly, despite all we know about the deadly toll of smoking, tobacco companies continue to successfully find ‘replacement smokers’ among our nation’s young girls,” said Healton.

The study enrolled more than one thousand 10-13 year olds in 2003 and followed them 5 times through 2008, asking participants to report a brand of “favorite” cigarettes. Specifically, teens who reported having a favorite cigarette ad at baseline were 50 percent more likely to have smoked by the fifth interview. The proportion of boys who reported having a favorite ad remained stable across all five surveys; however, it was found that after the launch of Camel No. 9, the percentage of teen girls who reported having a favorite cigarette ad increased by 10 percentage points, with Camel accounting for nearly all of this increase.

Camel No. 9 has been featured in top fashion and entertainment magazines geared for women, using stylish packaging and advertising featuring black, bright pink and teal colors and a name evocative of women’s fashion icons. In 2007, Legacy spearheaded a diverse group of public health and women’s public interest organizations calling for Camel No. 9 cigarettes to be taken off store shelves. In addition, more than 40 members of Congress called on women’s magazines to refuse advertising for this product, because the members saw such ads as direct attempts to attract girls and young women to smoking.

“This study provides the evidence that the Camel #9 campaign was clearly very attractive to underaged adolescent girls, effectively encouraging them to start smoking” said John P. Pierce, Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center in San Diego, “With 44 percent of underaged adolescents having a favorite cigarette advertisement in 2007, clearly the commitment that the tobacco industry made in 1998 that they would not target teens is far from being met.”

These results underscore the importance of our efforts to stop these types of campaigns and counter-market to youth who are so susceptible to them,” Healton added. Research shows that nearly 80 percent of current smokers started before the age of 18. And despite the knowledge of tobacco’s deadly toll, in the United States, nearly 20 percent of women still smoke and each year 174,000 women lose their lives to tobacco-related disease. In fact, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women in the United States, surpassing breast cancer.

Camel No. 9 Cigarette-Marketing Campaign Targeted Young Teenage Girls was funded by grants from Legacy, the National Cancer Institute, the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program and the University of California – San Diego.