Major Government Report Concludes That Tobacco Marketing and Smoking in Movies Promote Youth Smoking

Thursday, August 21, 2008 General News
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NCI Report Recommends Strategies to Win the War Against Nation's Leading Cause of Preventable Death

Washington, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leaders from the federal government and the nation's public health community today announced the release of an authoritative National Cancer Institute report that reaches the government's strongest conclusion to date that tobacco marketing and depictions of smoking in movies promote youth smoking. The 684-page report, The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use, presents definitive conclusions that a) tobacco advertising and promotion are causally related to increased tobacco use, and b) exposure to depictions of smoking in movies is causally related to youth smoking initiation.

The report also concludes that mass media campaigns can reduce smoking, especially when combined with other tobacco control strategies. However, youth smoking prevention campaigns sponsored by the tobacco industry have been generally ineffective and may actually have increased youth smoking.

This report provides the most current and comprehensive analysis of more than 1,000 scientific studies on the role of the media in encouraging and discouraging tobacco use. The report is Monograph 19 in the National Cancer Institute's Tobacco Control Monograph series examining critical issues in tobacco prevention and control. Research included in the review comes from the disciplines of marketing, psychology, communications, statistics, epidemiology, and public health. The release of the report was announced today at the National Press Club.

"The media have been used to promote cigarettes and smoking through infamous advertising icons - such as the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel - and through tobacco images in Hollywood movies. The media have also been used to increase smoking cessation and reduce smoking initiation, through paid advertising campaigns and public service announcements about the dangers of smoking. This monograph presents the most current and comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence on the impact of these forces, and other media exposures, on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors concerning tobacco use," said Ronald M. Davis, M.D., senior scientific editor, director of the Henry Ford Health System's Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association.

The monograph also concludes that:

-- Cigarettes are one of the most heavily marketed products in the United States. Between 1940 and 2005, U.S. cigarette manufacturers spent about $250 billion (in 2006 dollars) on cigarette advertising and promotion. In 2005, the industry spent $13.5 billion (in 2006 dollars) on cigarette advertising and promotion in the U.S. -- $37 million per day on average.

-- Much tobacco advertising targets the psychological needs of adolescents, such as popularity, peer acceptance and positive self-image. Advertising creates the perception that smoking will satisfy these needs.

-- Even brief exposure to tobacco advertising influences adolescents' attitudes and perceptions about smoking and smokers, and adolescents' intentions to smoke.

-- The depiction of cigarette smoking is pervasive in movies, occurring in three-quarters or more of contemporary box-office hits. Identifiable cigarette brands appear in about one-third of movies.

-- When allowed by a nation's constitution, a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and promotion is an effective policy intervention that prevents tobacco companies from shifting marketing expenditures to permitted media.

-- The tobacco industry works hard to impede tobacco control media campaigns, including attempts to prevent or reduce their funding.

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