Washington Fashioned-themed advertisements for Camel No. 9 brand cigarettes featuring a shocking pink logo have piqued the interest of teenage girls in what health advocates say is just another example of the tobacco industry’s long history of exploiting women.
Within a year of the ads’ debut in 2007 in such magazines as Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, the number of girls in a five-year study who identified the brand as their favorite cigarette campaign nearly doubled.
A study featured in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics tracked more than 1,036 adolescents beginning when they were between 10 and 13 years old in 2003, and found that teens who can name a favorite cigarette ad are more than 50 percent more likely to take up smoking than their peers are.
Anti-smoking activists are calling foul, claiming the campaign, which featured promotional giveaways such as flavored lip balm and cell phone jewelry, violates the industry’s 1998 agreement to stop targeting advertisements to kids.
R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said the company takes issue with several points that relate to the study, most notably the absence of a question asking whether any of the participants had actually seen Camel No. 9 print advertisements.
Howard also contested the study’s assertion that Camel’s overall market share increased sharply after the campaign’s launch. He said it has held steady, and noted that Camel No. 9 has only ever had a 0.6 percent share of the market. He pointed to a survey conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan that shows youth smoking continued to decline despite the Camel No. 9 campaign.
“There seems to be a disconnect between the claims they make in their study and the actual facts,” he said.