Strategy for Anti–Smoking Campaign Targets Women

The tobacco industry’s campaign to attract new generations of smokers, particularly women, provides valuable insight for anti–smoking campaigns, according to a published study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

Benjamin Toll, first author of the study and associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at Yale, said women 18 to 24 are exceptionally valuable to the tobacco industry.

“The tobacco industry does a lot of research to figure out what young women want to be like. Then they portray this image in their advertisements to encourage women to smoke their cigarettes,”Toll said. “A better understanding of this strategy will ideally allow tobacco control efforts to anticipate the tobacco industry, rather than only reacting in response to its activities.”

Pamela Ling, M.D., assistant professor in residence at UCSF and senior author of the paper, said, “Young women were the key to long term success in cigarette marketing campaigns. Once Virginia Slims began to lose its appeal to young adult females, Philip Morris decided the brand needed a makeover.”

The researchers said the tobacco industry’s attempt to attract new young female smokers, while at the same time trying to retain older smokers, provides an opening for anti–tobacco campaigns.

“Tobacco control campaigns for young adult females that portray smoking as an outdated, passé activity undermine tobacco industry efforts to re–make brands that are losing relevance over time,” Ling said.

See www.quitwithyale.org for more information about CENTURY/TTURC.

Citation: Tobacco Control 14: pp 172–180 (June 2005)

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