Teens who saw tobacco ads more likely to smoke
January 17th, 2011
03:53 PM ET

Teens who saw tobacco ads more likely to smoke

A study of German teens finds that those who were exposed to more cigarette advertisements during a nine-month observation period were more likely to take up smoking. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers looked at the role that any kind of advertising, including cigarette advertising, plays in influencing teens to begin smoking. Researchers showed advertisements to 2,102 German teens who had never smoked. The ads included six cigarette advertisements, and eight ads for other products including candy, clothes, cell phones and cars.

Students also answered surveys about how frequently they had seen each ad, as well as questions about smoking behaviors among their parents, peers, and their attitudes toward rebellious and sensation-seeking behaviors.

Initially, 47% of students reported one or more parents who smoked and 27% reported having peers who smoked.

During the nine-month observation period, 13% of students started smoking, the researchers reported.  Increased incidence of smoking was associated with increased exposure to cigarette advertisements, according to the study. Other factors tied to taking up smoking included older age, lower socioeconomic status, having friends who smoked, and higher levels of sensation-seeking behavior.

The study authors say their research shows that adolescent exposure to cigarette advertising, but not to other advertisements, is tied,at least in part, to the initiation of smoking. The study points out that while some countries, including Italy, Finland and New Zealand have strong anti-tobacco marketing regulations, other countries, including the United States and Germany, have “considerably weaker tobacco-marketing policies.”

Almost 90% of smokers began the habit when they were teens, according to the American Association of Pediatrics. Each puff of a cigarette exposes the body to more than 400 toxic substances including cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, acetylene, ammonia, carbon monoxide, as well as nicotine, the substance that makes smoking so highly addictive.

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. FatSean

    Teens who see army propaganda more likely to enlist, kill women and children. More at 11.

    January 17, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mason

      I agree. Just loo at all the video games that involve killing and war. This makes the children want to get involved in something like this. I think this needs to stop

      January 18, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  2. LEB

    Did the comparison of the smoking vs non-smoking group control for age, parental smoking habits, socioeconomic status, etc? The results are only meaningful of all other factors are controlled for, and all other possible correlations dismissed as possible causality. For example, perhaps low-income teens have more risky behaviors than higher-income teens in general, and low-income parents may be more likely to smoke. If that's the case, how much TV the kids watch may be only a minimal contributing factor.

    Honestly, this article seems to be wanting to blame TV commercials for a problem in teen behavior... which often works, because TV is a easy scapegoat and has been for decades. In reality, the two biggest factors in whether are not teens pick up smoking is 1) if their parents smoke, and 2) if their friends smoke. If teens under the legal age for buying tobacco are smoking, then someone is giving them the cigarettes... and it's not TV advertisers.

    January 17, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael Wong

      Do you honestly think that advertising has no effect, and that corporations pay billions of dollars for it on a pure whim? Advertising is a very heavily researched area, and the fact is that advertising does NOT work by forming rational decision-making justifications in the viewer's mind. It works on a lower level: think Pavlov.

      January 18, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
  3. Warren

    What! You mean children and young people are not impervious to advertising? Someone should do something about Happy Meals. They might make kids want to eat junk food!

    January 17, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tiffany

    Why are the US's tobacco marketing laws dubbed "weaker"? Tobacco companies in the US haven't been allowed to show TV commercials, billboards, etc. since the 1990s. So this is all very interesting, but doesn't really apply to the US since (outside of a convenience store), teens will virtually never see a cigarette brand ad.

    January 17, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Justin

      That's what I was wondering. Short of Magazine adverts, I never see any cigarette advertisements.

      And I'm a former smoker, so I really notice these things.

      January 18, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  5. Truth

    At any given moment, there's always a certain percentage of teens who are stupid enough to start smoking.

    January 17, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jane

      This is true but teens who are "stupuid" enough to start is probably the cause of ads and older siblings who smoke.

      April 1, 2015 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Advertising increases sales? Wow, I thought companies spent $1 million a commerical during Super Bowl just because they wanted to sponsor the television networks. Thanks for clearing this up for me. Hey maybe next time you can see if there is a link between mens' buying habits and pictures of attractive women next to products.

    January 17, 2011 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Justice4All

    P.S. This is America we r not Germany send ur worthless article there!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Justice4All

    Be original n do an article explaining why its ok to advertise alcohol. WHO DOESNT WANT TO B KEWL LIKE P DIDDY N HIS ALCOHOL ADS OR hOT N YUMMY LIKE THE BUD GIRL. ALCOHOL IS SO BAD I CANT BELEIVE ITS LEGAL. fAMILIES R DEVASTATED BY THE DISEASE OF ALCOHOLISM AND HOW MUCH DOES THE USA SPEND FOR REHABS AND PRISON STINTS? WHERE CAN A PERSON GO (LIKE A RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC) GO TO AVOID THE TEMPTATIONS. HOW MANY TEENS LIVE IN FEAR OF THEIR ALCOHOLIC PARENT OR CAREGIVER. obviously i dont drink but seriously i find this as shocking as America saying this is the land of the free while blacks and Native Americans deserved less and where treated inferior and cruely. the only thing that tops that is Doing in the name of IN GOD WE TRUST) We must look like a joke to other countrys. In America we dont advertise cigarettets. Did u get paid for doing this trial article?

    January 17, 2011 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Viking

    Advertising works. Gee that sure is news. All the radio, TV, newspaper, billboard companies, sign makers, internet sites etc., etc. will sure be glad to hear that. Just look at all the ads on CNN website. Wanna bet they are letting these post on their site for free??

    January 17, 2011 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kat

    I was talking to my 15 year old son today about smoking. I am a week into quitting smoking today (a habit I did start as a teenager). I told him to never start smoking it is way to hard to quit. He told me that no one his age smokes, nor are they going to because it is just stupid. They know it is unhealthy and it is not seen as cool to do it. Teens view other teens who smoke as stupid. These kids have never seen a cigarette ad, have never seen a smoking section in a restaurant, never seen people smoke on TV, and for those who have parents who smoke, see them outside in the rain and the cold to do it. They don't want to do it.

    Also, they can't do it. When I was a teen I could walk into any store and buy a pack of cigarettes, heck, when I was 10 years old my mom would send me to the 7-11 to buy cigarettes for her and they would sell them to me. These days, I can't buy a pack of cigarettes without ID, how is a kid supposed to get them?

    January 17, 2011 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FYI

      Just FYI, think like a teenager. They will stand outside of a store and pay someone extra money to go in a buy a pack of cigarettes for them. Same is true to alcohol. This practice has been going on for decades and they will eventually find some dumb adult who will take 10 bucks and buy the teenager tobacco or beer and keep the change. I know, I did this in the 1990's so I have a heads up on my teens.

      January 18, 2011 at 05:48 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      Well, a lot of my students have parents that say and think the same as you. The problem is that many of their kids are lying. Hopefully, yours is not, but all kids–and I mean ALL kids–will lie to their parents at some point or another. please don't assume that just because your child says that it's dumb that they aren't doing it.

      January 18, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      You would be shocked at how drastically opinions of smoking change between ages 15 and 17. I know because I felt the same way at 15 and sure enough started smoking when I was 17. Plus what teenager will tell his mom that he's really itching to start a habit. My dad has always been a heavy smoker and watching his habit obviously did not deter me at all. When I was in high school I worked at a deli, I didn't need someone to buy them for me, I would just put money in the register and grab a pack for myself, plus I had friends over the age of 18. Advertising had nothing to do with my decisions, just crappy friends. The only way cigarettes will ever be phased out is with a better anti-smoking education program that relies less heavily on scare tactics and more on less dramatic but equally severe consequences, such as immediate health implications and the impact it has on one's wallet – seriously.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • Impervious

      WoW...Would you be interested in buying a bridge in Brooklyn?

      January 18, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Well I am inclined to believe the kid because he told me he could get pot not problem, but couldn't get his hands on smokes (we do live in a small town with one little store so , trust me it isn't going to happen here. They guy who owns the store isn't that dumb).

      I am the cool mom amongst my son and his friends (all honors students, all ROTC, so the mentality might be a little different for other teens). They talk openly about this stuff to me because they can feel safe doing so. So no, I don't think the are lying. And maybe age does have something to do with it, but I really believe the thoughts are changing on smoking with the upcoming generation.

      January 20, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  11. Bob

    What about all them freakin Alcohol commercials on the boob tube.. Big Booze must be more powerful than big Tobacco.. America is in big denial when it comes to it's addiction with booze!

    January 18, 2011 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      Alcohol is WAY more acceptable in society than tobacco is. Think about all of the folk who have to have that ritual nightcap before bed or who have to have wine with dinner. Never mind the fact that more teens drink than smoke. My high school students come in on Monday mornings bragging not about how much they smoked, but about how much they drank the previous weekend. And yet I see no commercials warning about teen drinking nor do I see watchdog groups gunning for Budweiser in the same manner as they do for Marlboro. I also see no pushes in government to severely raise alcohol taxes to pay for the medical costs associated with excessive drinking. As long as alcohol remains as popular as it is, we probably will never see any of these things.

      January 18, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
  12. Thunderball

    I would just LOVE to be one of these Captain Obvious scientists. Do research for 8 months, and then publish a study that says: "Air linked to human survival" Or "Teenage boys show increased levels of testosterone" Jeez. Someone get this country back on track.

    January 18, 2011 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Captain Obvious

    I just researched it, turns out stroking a man's penis makes him hard.

    January 18, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      Nasty freak ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 15, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  14. Audrey Silk

    It need also be noted that the lead researcher, Dr. James D. Sargent, a professor at Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire, is a notorious anti-smoker activist researcher who is responsible for numerous anti-smoking studies that... can you believe it?... find positive results for all his studies no matter how ludicrously lame the data or methodology is. I'm just so glad that even those not deeply involved in this issue on either side of it can see right through it now. The only purpose of such "paper-mill" releases is to build their ever-growing "mountain of evidence" against smoking just so that they can say they have a "mountain of evidence."

    Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)

    January 18, 2011 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sam

    Your Kidding Me right ? when was the last time you seen an AD ON Cigarettes on Tv,Radio,Billboards,News papers,Magazines,Sports events ? There are NONE,ZILCH,NADA .Now Look at Beer,wine,Liquor,There On Billboards,Sports events,Magazines,Newspapers,Trucks that deliver them with inticing Island Views or christmas Scenes,New year,all holidays,you name it,Everywhere you go to a reatuarants,Beer and Booze signs of NEON to ATTRACT even the youngest Kids and Oldest people,This Piece of Journalism is a flat out Lie PERIOD.......and last but not least,ITS BOOZE KILLING EVERYONE not SMOKING CIGARETTES,DRINKERS KILL OTHERS FOR REAL..SMOKER DONT..WAKE UO and get out of lala LAND PEOPLE

    January 18, 2011 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. JCizzle

    Wow, what a shocking story.

    January 18, 2011 at 04:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. D Frost

    You mean advertising works!? I bet the advertising agencies are disappointed to hear this. This story falls under the "no sh!+" category.

    January 18, 2011 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. what what

    They only mention the 13% that started, and left out the 87% that didn't.

    January 18, 2011 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Holy Moses

    Smoke em if ya got em kids and if ya dont I will gladly give ya a few!!

    January 18, 2011 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jon O

    Are there really people out there who still believe tobacco companies don't do what they can to lure in teen smokers?

    Really? Wow.

    January 18, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      It's not just tobacco companies trying to lure people in. Look at all advertising...it's main point is to attract new consumers. Happy Meals target kids; Always targets women; Gatorade targets athletes. Why should tobacco be any different? The only reason cigarettes are at the top of the hit list is because it has become wholly acceptable to lay the blame for everyone at the feet of Big Tobacco. If other minority groups were targeted like smokers currently are, we would have a massive riot on our hands.

      January 18, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
  21. JanetMermaid

    Dear Idiots With Money. Please give me several million dollars to study if teens who see fast food ads eat more junk food, or if teens who see ads for brand name clothes wear more of that brand, or if teens who see ads for movies go to that movie in greater numbers.

    The results of this "study" is a perfect use of the phrase, "Like, duh."

    January 18, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Glenn Beck is a giant advertisement for right wing extremism. His violent rhetoric has led people to kill.

      January 18, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  22. Jack Cornhole

    I love to buy cigarettes and alcohol for all the neighborhood children.

    January 18, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. the bandit

    Im 16 and i love smoking no tv ad commercial told me do it i just picked it up cuz my friends did it so shut up about this nonsense that kids who see these ads are more likely to do it not true its something called PEER PRESSURE!!

    January 18, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Glenn Beck is peer pressure for psychos.

      January 18, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
  24. Holy Moses

    You tell em Bandit. I was a teenage smoker too and continue to smoke to this very day. NO amount of advertising will stop me or influence my continued smoking.

    January 18, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Joey

    What an utterly useless study. The first thing we learned in my marketing classes was that companies who advertise make more sales, and companies who don't advertise at all go under. It doesn't matter what the product is, they could have written this story about anything and the study results would have been the same.

    January 18, 2011 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Well, Joey, the problem is that Glenn Beck is one giant advertisement for right wing extremism and violence. Yet most people believe that his garbage does not drive psychos to kill. It does, it has, and most people are wrong about it. Glenn Beck is evil.

      January 18, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
  26. Philip

    True, any product would fit this test. Kids who view smoker video are more likely to become smokers just as kids who view violent video are more likely to become violent. No real news here.

    January 18, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Philip

    Now imagine if this test were of kids watching endless hours of smoker video every single day, for years and years. I would imagine more of them would become smokers. This would also illustrate the effect violent video has had on our kids.

    January 18, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mason

    i think people who smoke are stupid do they not know what their putting inside their body???

    January 18, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      Good grief...let the slamming begin. I choose to smoke. Yes, I know what I'm putting into my body and yet I still choose to smoke. Nothing anyone does will change my mind. But let's alter your statement a bit:

      a) I think people who drink are stupid. Do they not know what they're putting inside their body?


      b) I think people who eat junk food (and are most likely overweight) are stupid. Do they not know what they're putting inside their body?


      c) I think people who tan (either in sunlight or in tanning beds) are stupid. Do they not know what they're doing to their bodies?

      The list can go on and on. So save your sweeping judgements for those who care.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  29. Philip

    It's impossible to be healthy without a tan. Without UV light, we would all die. Your body would not be able to rid itself of toxins without sunlight. But there is money to be made by those selling you anti-UV products, hence the bad name UV light has been given.

    January 18, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Bob

    First, to the people commenting here. You do realize that advertising and Glenn Beck have the same effect on people. So, yes, you put out your condescending diatribes such as "of course, you idiot, advertising works" but then you are the same people that say "Glenn Beck doesn't make psychos shoot people." This story is VERY IMPORTANT. Words matter, images matter and both change peoples behavior. It is too bad that most people actually believe that advertising does not work. They say "oh, people make choices, it's free will." Sorry lunk heads. Everyone's behavior is driven by their past experience in accordance with current environmental conditions. There is no free will.

    January 18, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Your hair is covered in a protective coating of Boogers

      And your lunkheadedness reveals many past experiences.

      January 18, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
  31. Philip

    @Bob...humans can and do 'will' things to happen. We save for our retirement years in advance, because it is our 'will' that we not live out our days in poverty. Human's have free will whereas other animals do not. Ever seen an Elephant storing up grain so she can retire early?

    January 18, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Humans do what they have learned to do. That is not free will. There is no free will.

      January 18, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
  32. Howard

    You mean to tell me that big tobacco would go so far as to manipulate young teens into smoking with slick billboards and pictures like the one above?? How shocking?

    January 18, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Bob

    Phillip does not believe that advertising works.

    January 18, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Seriously, people save for retirement because they were taught that it was a good idea or they saw someone that went broke. They don't come up with these ideas on their own. It's all past experience. With out the past experience of learning about saving for retirement no one would do it. So behavior depends on past experience.

      January 18, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Oh, and one more thing: you have absolutely no control over what you are presently conscious of. Yes, you can practice meditation, but what you are conscious of right now is totally dependent on past events. You can not change the past so you can not control what you are conscious of. So to say that you consciously control anything is misleading. It's really past events that you have no control over that are controlling your conscious and thus controlling your actions. Again, there is no way you can call this free will.

      January 18, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
  34. Impervious

    This study is has no reason to be mentioned every body who smoke is doing so for their own reason, whether its PEER PRESSURE, STRESS, DEPRESSION, SENSATION-SEEKING, ADVERTISEMENTS (which aren't even seen in everyday life ) or whatever the cause is its a "WEAK-MINDED ADDICTION"

    January 18, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Are the people that listen to Glenn Beck weak minded?

      January 18, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • Impervious

      Do you think the people who listen to him are easily influenced although they have the "COMMON-SENSE" of their own conscious thought!

      January 19, 2011 at 01:25 | Report abuse |
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  36. CleanLiving87

    For many teens, a desire to fit in is at the root of their decision to take their first drag. Research shows that teens with friends that smoke are nine times more likely to smoke than those whose friends don’t smoke. http://bit.ly/fWZm2D

    January 21, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 22, 2011 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jordan

    seriously, idiots, when is the last time any of you have seen a cigarette ad. they arent even around anymore and kids are still smoking cigarettes. get over it.someone who doesnt like smoking isnt going to smoke cigarettes to fit in. kids with friends who somke are more likely to smoke because kids tend to hang out with people that have similar interests to them. get over the conspiracy about smoking. it makes no sense and it s not based in fact.

    February 27, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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  40. anon

    most of teenagers now are easily taken and affected by what they see through their surroundings especially by the media. now they are smoking like their lungs would accommodate all the smokes they're taking in to their body.

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