New Study Examines the Changes in Marketing of Smokeless Tobacco
A new study in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research finds that print advertisements for smokeless tobacco products have increased, especially in publications targeting males.
The study focused on 17 nationally circulated magazines, several of which were obtained from a project analyzing magazine ads conducted at the Centers for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health, analyzing the publication of smokeless tobacco advertisements from the time periods 1998-1999 and 2005-2006. In the latter period, 2005-2006, the number of ads increased, and more of the ads contained references to flavored products, and “alternative to cigarette” messages –positioning smokeless products as an alternative product for cigarette smokers.
The majority of ads were placed in male-targeted publications – not surprising as three quarters of new smokeless tobacco users are male. The study found the greatest number of ads in two sports-themed magazines: Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. Both of these magazines have male readership levels of more than 75 percent. “We found the ads commonly portray themes such as masculinity and sociability – a concern given that previous research has shown that youth perceive smokeless tobacco as athletic and masculine,” said lead author Laurel Curry, a researcher with Legacy®, the national public health foundation devoted to keeping young people from smoking and helping all smokers quit.
The study also showed that flavored products were advertised in 86 percent of ads in more mainstream publications such as Entertainment Weekly and Newsweek. This fact, along with the increased number of ads per issue in mainstream magazines in the latter time period, suggests the targeting of current smokers as potential smokeless customers. “We know from tobacco industry document research that the industry has long been developing products and messaging to exploit cigarette smokers; this study provides systematic evidence that these practices have increased in advertising in recent years,” Curry said. And while the Federal Drug Administration recently banned all candy-flavored cigarettes, although not menthol cigarettes, smokeless products were not included in the ban.
Promotion of smokeless tobacco products to smokers has researchers concerned about the public health implications of dual use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes, which is more common among young adult and adolescent male smokers than among their older counterparts. Dual use may slow the decline in smoking rates or perpetuate nicotine dependence, and could increase health risks above that of single product use.
On a related note, a new partnership from several leading public health groups, including Legacy and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, seeks to raise awareness of the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use in Major League Baseball. The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park Campaign (http://www.tobaccofreebaseball.org/) is calling for a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco among professional baseball players, managers and coaches at MLB games, Smokeless tobacco, including dip and chew, is already banned at minor league ballparks.
Legacy is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the national public health organization helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. Legacy develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation’s programs include truth®, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as having contributed to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry
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