OSWEGO, NY – New York’s youth smokers are smoking the same heavily marketed brands as New York’s adults, according to a report issued by the State Health Department.
The report (“Established Youth Smokers in New York Prefer the Same Brands of Cigarettes as Adult Smokers”) says that about 75% of established high school smokers in New York preferred Newport, Marlboro or Camel cigarettes in 2010.
“The fact that youth and adult smokers are choosing the same top three brands demonstrates that tobacco marketing effectively targets youth and adults,” said Christina Wilson, executive director of Integrated Community Planning of Oswego County.
The top three cigarette brand preferences of New York’s established youth smokers (high schoolers who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes and who have smoked on at least 20 of the past 30 days), as reported by the 2010 New York State Youth Tobacco Survey, are similar to adult smokers’ (18 and older) brand preferences, as reported in the 2009 New York Adult Tobacco Survey:
37 percent of established youth smokers and 29 percent of established adult smokers prefer Newport cigarettes
23 percent of youth and 29 percent of adults prefer Marlboro cigarettes
16 percent of youth and five percent of adults prefer Camel cigarettes
“When it comes to smoking, youth and adults are choosing – from among the many, many options – the same three brands,” said Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. “Clearly, tobacco industry marketing works, and we need to continue our efforts to protect children by, among other things, limiting the in-store marketing they’re exposed to.”
It’s also worth noting that the No. 1 choice of youth smokers – Newport cigarettes – is primarily a brand of menthol cigarettes sold by Lorillard Tobacco Company.
Newport was exclusively a menthol brand until November 2010, when Lorillard introduced a non-menthol Newport cigarette.
This comes at the same time as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is scrutinizing how mint-flavored cigarettes affect smoking habits.
In addition to introducing a non-menthol Newport cigarette, Lorillard (along with R.J. Reynolds) has sued the U.S. government to block a scientific advisory committee from reviewing the evidence and making a non-binding report to the FDA about menthol cigarettes.
According to Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds fear that the committee, having examined the evidence, will recommend effective actions that reduce or eliminate the lucrative market for menthol cigarettes.
“Once again, (tobacco companies) are putting profits ahead of lives and health,” Myers said.
“This is no surprise,” said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Public Health Director of the Oswego County Health Department. “Menthol cigarettes clearly appeal to children, and tobacco companies are not inclined to let go of their customers, regardless of their age. The bottom line is that dollars are more important than public health.”