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Cigarette Brand Use among Adult Smokers -- United States, 1986

Information about the use of cigarette brands is important to the development of smoking-prevention and smoking-cessation strategies. This report summarizes data from the 1986 Adult Use of Tobacco Survey (AUTS), which describe the brand of cigarettes smoked as reported by respondents; the data are presented by sex, race, age, and level of educational attainment.

The AUTS, conducted by CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, was designed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of adults regarding all forms of tobacco use. Data for this telephone survey, conducted primarily during October through December of 1986, were collected from a national probability sample of 13,031 respondents greater than or equal to 17 years of age and were weighted to represent the civilian, noninstitutionalized, adult U.S. population. According to the AUTS, an estimated 26.5% (approximately 46.8 million) of adults were smoking cigarettes in 1986 (1,2).

Data from the 4700 current cigarette smokers in 1986 who responded to the AUTS were used in this analysis. Current brand use was determined by responses to the question, "What brand of cigarettes do you usually smoke now?" (1). A series of follow-up questions were used to determine the specific variety of the brand used (e.g., mentholated vs. nonmentholated and "lights" vs. regular). In this report, however, data are presented only by overall brand categories. Market share data* are provided for comparison.

In 1986, the 12 most commonly named brands of cigarettes smoked were used by 74.7% of all current smokers and accounted for 72.6% of the cigarette market (3) (Table 1, page 671). Marlboro, Winston, Salem, Kool, and Newport--the top five brands smoked--were used by 52.0% of current smokers and accounted for 52.1% of the cigarette market. The percentage of smokers who reported using Marlboro (24.1%) was more than double the percentage who reported using Winston (9.6%), the next most commonly named brand (these findings were also consistent with known market share patterns (3)).

Brand use varied by smoker's sex, race, and age. Differences by race in part reflected increased use of mentholated cigarettes by blacks (4,5). Fifty-five percent of all black smokers reported using one of three brands that were available only in mentholated form (Newport, Kool, and Salem). Fifty-four percent of smokers 17-24 years of age used Marlboro, more than twice the proportion in older age groups or the entire population (Table 1). The use of Merit and Kent varied directly with increasing level of education; in comparison, the use of Newport and Pall Mall varied inversely with level of education (Table 1). Reported by: A Anderson, Case Western Reserve Univ School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio. Epidemiology Br, Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Unlike market share data, the AUTS data allow analysis of brand use by sociodemographic variables or other characteristics. Overall, self-reported brand use from the AUTS is consistent with market share data for 1986 (Table 1) (3). Discrepancies between the sales-based and self-reported data may reflect differences in the number of cigarettes smoked by users of different brands, differences in brand use between current smokers and former smokers who had quit in 1986 before the AUTS, and errors in measurement (e.g., use by a smoker of more than one brand). The similarity in market shares between 1986 and 1989 (Table 1) (3) suggests that the self-reported 1986 data on brand use may also represent more recent cigarette use.

Factors that may affect smokers' use of a brand of cigarettes include cost, the "taste" of the cigarette, the perceived harmfulness of the cigarette, and the image of those who smoke a particular brand as projected through its advertising. Assessing sociodemographic differences among smokers by brand use and determining reasons for those differences may help in developing and targeting effective interventions for reducing smoking among specific population subgroups. For example, local surveys have found that the proportion of teenaged smokers who use Marlboro is substantially higher than the brand's market share (6,7)--a finding consistent with the AUTS data for persons aged 17-24 years. As a result, a school curriculum designed in California is being used in several states to counter the advertised image of Marlboro smokers as strong, rugged, and independent (8). The key component of the curriculum, a British documentary film entitled Death in the West, features six real cowboys in the American West who were dying from lung cancer or emphysema. Although 26.2% of white smokers used Marlboro, only 6.0% of black smokers used that brand; therefore, a health education program based on the Marlboro image may have a greater impact among whites than among blacks.

Several brands have been marketed primarily or exclusively to women (9); for example, Virginia Slims (used by 5.3% of female smokers) advertising promotes the image of the independent or "liberated" female smoker. However, more than one quarter of female smokers use either Marlboro (19.4%) or Winston (7.5%), which have been depicted primarily as "male brands"; some women may smoke "male brands" because of the implication of gender equality (10).

AUTS data show that 76% of blacks but only 23% of whites smoked mentholated brands (5). Increased understanding of why blacks use mentholated brands may assist in designing smoking-prevention and smoking-cessation interventions targeted to blacks.

AUTS data (5) also indicate that more highly educated smokers were more likely to use brands with a low-tar yield (less than or equal to 15 mg per cigarette). This finding suggests that this group may be more receptive to the message that the benefits of quitting substantially exceed the benefits of switching from high- to low-tar brands (11,12).

By tracking trends in use of brands of cigarettes, the role of cigarette advertising in smoking initiation may be more clearly understood. For example, recent advertising campaigns for Camel cigarettes featuring the "Old Joe" dromedary cartoon character may "reposition" the brand into a younger population (13). An increase in the use of Camel cigarettes by young persons, particularly teenagers, would suggest that the Camel advertising campaign is stimulating the recruitment of new smokers. CDC's 1989 Teenage Attitudes and Practices Survey will provide national data on use of brands of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco among persons 12-18 years of age who use such products.


  1. CDC. US Department of Health and Human Services report of the

1986 Adult Use of Tobacco Survey. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989.

2. CDC. Cigarette smoking in the United States, 1986. MMWR 1987;36:581-5.

3. Maxwell JC. The Maxwell consumer report: preliminary year end 1989 report. Richmond, Virginia: Wheat First Securities, 1989.

4. Cummings KM, Giovino GA, Mendicino AJ. Cigarette advertising and black-white differences in brand preferences. Public Health Rep 1987;102:698-701.

5. CDC. Reducing the health consequence of smoking: 25 years of progress--a report of the Surgeon General, 1989. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989; DHHS publication no. (CDC)89-8411.

6. Hunter SM, Croft JB, Burke GL, Parker FC, Webber LS, Berenson GS. Longitudinal patterns of cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use in youth: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Am J Public Health 1986;76:193-5.

7. Goldstein AO, Fischer PM, Richards JW, Creten D. Relationship between high school student smoking and recognition of cigarette advertisements. J Pediatr 1987;110:488-91.

8. Glantz SA. Death in the West curriculum project (Letter). N Y State J Med 1985;85:470-1.

9. Ernster VL. Mixed messages for women: a social history of cigarette smoking and advertising. N Y State J Med 1985;85:335-40. 10. Davis RM. Current trends in cigarette advertising and marketing. N Engl J Med 1987;316: 725-32. 11. CDC. The health consequences of smoking: the changing cigarette--a report of the Surgeon General, 1981. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1981; DHHS publication no (PHS)81-50156. 12. Davis RM, Healy P, Hawk SA. Information on tar and nicotine yields on cigarette packages. Am J Public Health 1990;80:551-3. 13. Richards JW Jr, Fischer PM. Smokescreen: how tobacco companies market to children. World Smoking and Health 1990;15:12-4.

  • Percentage of all cigarettes sold in the United States, by

brand. Market share data are collected quarterly by a tobacco industry analyst (3).(Continued on page 671)

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