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Current Trends Cigarette Advertising -- United States, 1988

Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of death in the United States (1), yet cigarettes are one of the most heavily advertised products. Cigarette advertising themes typically associate smoking with high-style living; healthy activities; and economic, social, and professional success (2). Cigarette advertising campaigns are increasingly targeting women, minorities, and blue-collar workers (3,4), groups that account for an increasing percentage of the smoking population (1). This report provides data on cigarette advertising expenditures for 1988, comparison data from earlier years, and rankings of cigarettes among all products and services by advertising expenditures. Cigarette Advertising Expenditures

Data collected by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from the six major U.S. cigarette manufacturers indicate that in 1988 cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures in the United States reached an all-time high of $3.27 billion--a 26.9% increase over 1987 expenditures of $2.58 billion (5). During the same period, the consumer price index (all items) increased 4.1%. From 1975 to 1988, total cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures increased more than sixfold; when adjusted by the consumer price index to constant 1975 dollars, expenditures increased threefold (Figure 1).

In 1988, cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures related to the sponsorship of sporting events were $84.0 million (2.6% of total cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures) and included sponsorship, newspaper advertising, and other expenditures.

From 1975 to 1988, the proportion of advertising expenditures for cigarettes yielding less than or equal to 15 mg of "tar" has consistently exceeded their domestic market share (Figure 2) by an average of 14.1 percentage points. In 1988, 60.7% of advertising and promotional expenditures were for lower-yield cigarettes; these cigarettes accounted for 54.2% of the domestic market in 1988 (5; FTC, unpublished data).

The FTC classifies cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures into 14 categories that are consolidated into 10 categories here (Table 1). Five categories are traditional forms of print advertising; the remaining five represent promotional activities. From 1975 to 1988, the proportion of total expenditures for each of the five print advertising categories decreased, while the proportion of total expenditures for each of the promotion categories except free-sample distribution increased. The largest proportional increase occurred in the category "all other"; 88% of the 1988 expenditures in this category were for coupons and "retail value added" promotions (e.g., a "free" pack of cigarettes with the purchase of one or more packs). The proportion of total advertising and promotional expenditures dedicated to promotional activities has increased steadily from 1975 (25.5%) to 1988 (68.0%). Rankings among All Products and Services

Cigarettes remain one of the most heavily advertised products in the print media. In 1988, cigarettes were the most heavily advertised product* in outdoor media, the second most heavily advertised product in magazines (after passenger cars), and the sixth most heavily advertised product in newspapers (Newspaper Advertising Bureau,unpublished data, 1989). When advertising expenditures for these three media are combined, cigarettes were the second most heavily advertised product overall (after passenger cars).

In 1988, cigarette advertising expenditures accounted for 16.9%, 5.7%, and 0.4% of total advertising expenditures (national, retail, and classified advertising) in outdoor media, magazines, and newspapers, respectively (Newspaper Advertising Bureau, unpublished data, 1989). These percentages represent a decline from 1985 (22.3%, 7.1%, and 0.8%, respectively) (3) and are consistent with the shift in emphasis from print advertising to promotional activities. Reported by: US Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC. Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: The mass media are used to communicate messages designed to promote health and prevent disease and injury. For example, public service announcements and paid advertisements have been used to encourage exercise; immunization; proper dietary habits; screening for cancer, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol; use of safety belts and car restraints for infants; avoidance of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs; and avoidance of high-risk sexual practices (6). However, advertising and promotions also have been used to encourage unhealthy activities; cigarette smoking is one such activity.

Cigarette advertising and promotion may increase cigarette consumption by 1) encouraging children and adolescents to experiment with and initiate regular use of cigarettes; 2) deterring current smokers from quitting; 3) prompting former smokers to begin smoking again; and 4) increasing smokers' daily cigarette consumption by serving as an external cue to smoke. Cigarette advertising may also increase consumption through indirect means such as the inhibiting effect of cigarette advertising revenues on media coverage of issues related to smoking and disease (7). Furthermore, the ubiquity of cigarette advertising may contribute to the perception that smoking is less hazardous, more prevalent, and more socially acceptable than it is (1,8).

The proportion of cigarette advertising expenditures for cigarettes yielding less than or equal to 15 mg of "tar" has increased since 1975 and has consistently exceeded the domestic market share of these cigarettes (Figure 2). These findings suggest that cigarette manufacturers are seeking to expand the market for these cigarettes (3). Persons who smoke lower-yield cigarettes may believe these products to be less hazardous and thus may be less motivated to quit. According to the 1986 Adult Use of Tobacco Survey, about one fifth of smokers believe that the kind of cigarettes they smoke are less hazardous than others (1). However, any benefits of smoking lower-yield cigarettes are minimal in comparison with the benefits of quitting smoking entirely (9,10).

Promotional activities differ in important ways from traditional advertising. Whereas print advertising may provide information or shape attitudes about a product, certain promotional activities (e.g., free samples and coupons) are designed to result in the trial and/or purchase of the product (11). Free samples may encourage initiation of tobacco use among children and adolescents, especially when distributed at youth-oriented events (e.g., concerts) (12). Cigarette sponsorship of sporting events allows cigarette brand names to be shown or mentioned on television, even though cigarette commercials are prohibited in the broadcast media, and cigarette sponsorship of televised sporting events is reported to increase cigarette brand recognition among children (13). Sponsorship of cultural events may facilitate the targeting of certain ethnic and racial groups.

Numerous policy options for stemming the promotion of tobacco products are being considered within the public health community. Options that have been suggested include: 1) funding a substantial antismoking "counteradvertising" campaign; 2) enforcing an advertising and promotion code that defines permissible imagery in tobacco ads and methods of enforcement; 3) eliminating all imagery (e.g., pictures of persons and objects) in tobacco ads, allowing only words and pictures of the product ("tombstone advertising"); 4) prohibiting tobacco advertising in media that reach a substantial audience of young people; 5) repealing the federal prohibition of state and local regulation of cigarette advertising; 6) eliminating the tax deductibility of tobacco advertising expenditures as a business expense; and 7) banning all tobacco advertising and promotion (1,8,14,15). Further discussion of these and other ideas will continue at federal, state, and local levels of government.

References

  1. CDC. Reducing the health consequences of smoking: 25 years of

progress--a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989; DHHS publication no. (CDC)89-8411.

2. Federal Trade Commission. Report to Congress pursuant to the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, for the years 1982-1983. Washington, DC: US Federal Trade Commission, 1985.

3. Davis RM. Current trends in cigarette advertising and marketing. N Engl J Med 1987;316: 725-32.

4. Maxwell B, Jacobson M. Marketing disease to Hispanics: the selling of alcohol, tobacco, and junk foods. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1989.

5. Federal Trade Commission. Report to Congress for 1987 pursuant to the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. Washington, DC: US Federal Trade Commission, 1989.

6. National Cancer Institute. Making health communication programs work: a planner's guide. Bethesda, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989; DHHS publication no. (NIH)89-1493.

7. Warner KE. Cigarette advertising and media coverage of smoking and health. N Engl J Med 1985:312:384-8.

8. Warner KE. Selling smoke: cigarette advertising and public health. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 1986.

9. Public Health Service. The health consequences of smoking: the changing cigarette--a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1981; DHHS publication no. (PHS)81-50156. 10. Benowitz NL. Health and public policy implications of the "low yield" cigarette. N Engl J Med 1989;320:1619-21. 11. Popper ET. Advertising of tobacco products. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Committee on Energy and Commerce, US House of Representatives, Ninety-ninth Congress, 2nd Session, July 18 and August 1, 1986. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1987:119-56. (Serial no. 99-167). 12. Davis RM, Jason LA. The distribution of free cigarette samples to minors. Am J Prev Med 1988;4:21-6. 13. Ledwith F. Does tobacco sports sponsorship on television act as advertising to children? Health Educ J 1984;43:85-8. 14. Warner KE, Ernster VL, Holbrook JH, et al. Promotion of tobacco products: issues and policy options. J Health Polit Policy Law 1986;11:367-91. 15. American Medical Association. Tobacco Use in America Conference: final report and recommendations from the health community to the 101st Congress and the Bush Administration. Chicago: American Medical Association, 1989.

*According to the Media Records classification system, national advertising expenditures for products and services are classified into major categories (e.g., alcoholic beverages, automotive products, foods, tobacco, and transportation) and subcategories (e.g., beer, passenger cars, nonalcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and airlines). The rankings here compare cigarettes to all other subcategories.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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