Newport cigarettes gain popularity among teens

02/04/04

Heavily-advertised Marlboro, Camel and Newport cigarettes dominated the teen smoking market between 1989 and 1996, according to a new study, which found that the percentage of teen Newport smokers doubled during those years.

Newport made its most significant inroads with the white and Hispanic teen market, say Karen Gerlach, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and colleagues. Their study appears in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Newport cigarettes contain menthol, which may make them less harsh-tasting and easier for experimenting teens to smoke, Gerlach and colleagues say. They also suggest that expanded advertising campaigns may have helped increase the brand's popularity.

"Further research is needed to examine why adolescents are moving to menthol especially given the recent introduction of menthol versions of Camel and Marlboro," Gerlach says.

In 1996, Marlboro, Camel and Newport accounted for more than 90 percent of the cigarettes usually bought by teens. Teens usually smoked the brand associated with their favorite cigarette advertisement, the researchers found.

"Studies have shown that brand-name cigarette use is more concentrated among adolescents and that adolescents who smoke are more adept at identifying tobacco advertising," Gerlach says.

Gerlach and colleagues examined data from three national surveys of teen smokers in 1989, 1993 and 1996. During that seven-year span, tobacco advertising and promotion budgets increased from $3.62 billion to $5.11 billion. Tobacco advertising and promotion topped $11 billion in 2003.

Ad appeal and cigarette preferences didn't always coincide among the teens. Only 52 percent of white teens who said Newport ads were their favorite actually smoked those cigarettes. Only 39 percent of black teens who liked Marlboro ads best said that they usually smoked that brand.

Marlboro cigarettes were more popular in the Midwest, South and West compared to the East, while those living in the East were more likely to smoke Newports. The researchers also found that young smokers were less like likely to smoke Camel cigarettes than their older counterparts.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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