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Cigarette maker targets young girls in latest ad campaign

camel no9Last updated: March 15, 2010

Source: NBC

How do you make this appealing to females? Add pink … talk about shoes and fashion… throw in a splash of glamour.

“It was one of those campaigns that, you know, very much appealed to young girls,” said Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation.

Three years ago, the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company advertised its Camel No. 9 brand of cigarettes in women’s magazines — like Glamour, Cosmo, and Vogue.

Those ads have since been pulled — but new research suggests the brief advertising campaign sparked the interest of perhaps an unintended target: teenage girls.

“Teenage girls buy up the age bracket when they buy these magazines, and that’s why when there’s a tobacco advertising campaign in magazines, so many young girls, teenagers, are affected,” said Dr. Healton.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics tracked teens’ favorite cigarette ads. The year after the Camel No. 9 ads came out, researchers noted a 10% jump in girls who were able to recall favorite cigarette ads — mostly these Camel No. 9s.

“That would not be so concerning if we didn’t know that having an ad campaign favorite boosts by 50% the probability that you will start smoking,” said Dr. Healton.

In fact — 90% of smokers begin the habit during their teen years.

A statement from RJ Reynolds takes issue with the Pediatrics study — saying it’s “based on a series of surveys that do not appear to have asked any of the participants whether they in fact ever saw a single Camel No. 9 advertisement.”

The statement goes on to say that “minors should never use tobacco products” — one point upon which both the company and doctors can agree.

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