The industry responds to these criticisms saying they don't target underage youth. In fact, they
emphasize they don't try to convince anyone to begin smoking. They claim their advertising and
promotional campaigns are designed to maintain their present market share of smoking customers, reduce
defection of their brand smokers who might consider another company's brand; and entice smokers of other
brands to try their products.
This just isn't true. From a May 1975 Philip Morris document marked confidential
complete PDF copy of report [775k]
), we learn how important the youth market is to a brand like Marlboro:
"I think Dr. Dunn's memo has very effectively
dispelled the notion that nicotine reductions have been the cause of the slackening in the rate of
growth of Marlboro Red... It was my contention that Marlboro's phenomenal growth rate in the past
has been attributable in large part to our high market penetration among younger smokers and the
rapid growth in that population segment. I pointed out that the number of 15-19 year-olds is now
increasing more slowly and will peak in 1976, and then begin to decline" (p.1).
"It has been well established by the National Tracking Study and other studies that Marlboro
has for many years had its highest market penetration among younger smokers. Most of these
studies have been restricted to people age 18 and over, but my own data, which includes
younger teenagers, shows even higher Marlboro market penetration among 15-17 year-olds. The
teenage years are also important because those are the years during which most smokers begin
to smoke, the years in which initial brand selections are made, and the period in the life-cycle
in which conformity to peer-group norms is greatest" (p.1).
In our continued search of the Philip Morris document archive, we found an excellent review of the history
of tobacco advertising. Download PDF copy of History of Cigarette Advertising
(1.5M). The report begins with the breakup of the tobacco trust by the Federal government in 1911. It
appears to be incomplete and ends in 1961.
This 1987 paper authored by Dr. Richard W. Pollay, Curator, Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Commerce, provides
a chonology of the History of Cigarette Advertising. It is marked as confidential.
From another tobacco industry document (listed below), we uncovered the insider's truth about the tobacco
market. Philip Morris executives state, "Marlboro's biggest source of smokers continues to be
smokers with 'no previous brand,' roughly half of whom are starting smokers. In 1987 this group
contributed 33% of Marlboro in-switchers" [19
Philip Morris executives add "Internal Marlboro switching is the second largest component."
From the document, we see for the years, 1985-87, over half of all those who became Marlboro smokers
had either previously not been smokers or had been smoking another Marlboro brand, i.e., Marlboro Red
smokers who switched to the supposedly low-tar Marlboro Light product.
In a 1993 Philip Morris study, the researchers found "the change from Marlboro Red to another brand is
mainly determined by the "boring" image of Marlboro Red, and because of the negative product characteristics
(throat irritation, headaches, one gets fed up with it) that the out-switcher has experienced" [4
The Youth Factor
This document provides additional insight into youth marketing. Philip Morris executives report that,
"although the data available is limited, Marlboro Menthol appears to be skewing male, extremely young,
and White" [16
]. They add that, "the fastest growing segments continue to be
the youngest smokers" [15
]. Philip Morris has always claimed to be an
equal opportunity drug dealer, we see evidence of this in this document. "Qualitative research is
underway to investigate Hispanic attitudes toward Marlboro, particulary among the young segments. Results
will be available shortly" [15
Actually, the youth factor seems to raise a marketing problem with Philip Morris -- not a political
one. When discussing demographic profiles of smokers by their various brands, PM executives
note that "The latter has a lower median age than Red (27.2 vs. 28.9), raising an interesting question;
at what point will it be so much younger that it is obvious to our consumers, and what effect will
this have on Lights or Red [14
CURRENT BUSINESS SITUATION
Source: Philip Morris
MARLBORO YOUNG ADULT SMOKER STUDY
Source: Philip Morris