Tobacco Marketing Still Strong Despite MSA

Two years after states and tobacco companies reached the largest legal settlement in history, health advocates give the deal a decidedly mixed report card, expressing disappointment that it has not more radically changed cigarette marketing.

The deal's clearest impact was to help drive up the price of cigarettes, leading to a 9 percent drop in sales nationwide last year. Hundreds of millions of settlement dollars have begun to pour into anti-tobacco ads and quit-smoking programs that could produce future reductions.

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Although the Marlboro Man came down from billboards, he rides on in the pages of magazines and newspapers and on posters plastered in convenience stores. Auto racing sponsorships and cigarette promotions in trendy bars still thrive. . .

"The companies and their marketing, their lying, are still in place," says Richard A. Daynard, who founded the Tobacco Products Liability Project in 1984 and helped plot the legal assault. "The settlement was largely drafted by the tobacco industry to protect its profits. And it's done that. . ."

"What's happened is that the tobacco companies have simply switched their spending to other modes of advertising," says Myers of the Center for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Overall, if the goal of the master settlement agreement was to decrease the amount of youth-oriented advertising children see, it hasn't worked. . ."

Contests and giveaways featuring Marlboro, Camel and other brands occur nightly in bars and nightclubs in Baltimore and other cities, as tobacco marketers zero in on young adults. Direct-mail advertising of cigarettes is up, and R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. continues to mail free cigarettes to smokers older than age 21 - or teens who might sign statements falsely claiming that age.

by Scott Shane
Baltimore (MD) Sun &storyid=1150510218251
Friday, Nov 24, 2000

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