Addicting Youth

Tobacco Companies Targeting Youth

Marketing to Youth

Kids are twice as sensitive to tobacco marketing than adults. In fact, one third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributable to cigarette advertising. Its influence is even stronger than peer pressure, and the tobacco industry knows this.

Children are the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society. Cigarette advertising suggests that smoking can fulfill psychological needs like popularity, peer acceptance and positive self-image. However, kids are too young to fully understand the consequences of smoking and the powers of addiction.

For decades, tobacco companies have been targeting youth. They aggressively promote their products using a variety of tactics that are appealing to children. Tobacco is marketed in exotic flavors wrapped in brightly colored packaging, a proven technique for marketing to young people. They place products and advertisements in stores and gas stations at the direct eye-level of children. They even place products in movies and video games. It’s all part of their strategy to recruit new generations of tobacco users and replacement smokers.

Young people are more sensitive to nicotine than adults, so youth smokers are more likely to develop severe levels of nicotine addiction. This leads them to continue using tobacco as they grow older, replacing the current smokers who are dying or trying to quit. Today, about three out of four high school smokers will become adult smokers, even if they intend to quit in a few years.

540 million: Packs of cigarettes consumed by kids each year.

As a result of tobacco marketing to children, among many other influences, every day more than 3,800 children younger than the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. Another 2,100 youth who are occasional smokers become daily smokers. Even more daunting is the fact that every adult who dies early of smoking is replaced by two new, child or teen smokers. If current risks hold, one of those two will also die early from smoking.

By understanding the tactics tobacco companies employ to recruit new smokers, we’ll be better prepared to combat the industry’s influence on our children’s health and future.

Did you know?

5.6 million children alive today who will ultimately die early from smoking. That’s equal to 1 child out of every 13 alive in the U.S. today.