Article Text

PDF
How the industry is marketing menthol cigarettes: the audience, the message and the medium
  1. Amanda Richardson1,2,
  2. Ollie Ganz1,
  3. Jennifer Pearson2,3,
  4. Nathalie Celcis1,
  5. Donna Vallone1,2,
  6. Andrea C Villanti2,3
  1. 1Department of Research and Evaluation, Legacy, Washington DC, USA
  2. 2Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
  3. 3Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, Legacy, Washington DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amanda Richardson, 2582 Holly Manor Drive, Falls Church, VA 22043, USA; amanda{at}rescuescg.com

Abstract

Background Despite declines in overall US cigarette consumption, the menthol cigarette market share has increased in recent years. Advertising contributes to menthol initiation and use, but little has been done to characterise menthol cigarette advertising outside of the point of sale.

Methods Two full-service advertising firms were used to develop a library of menthol cigarette advertisements (ads) over a 9-month period (June 2012–February 2013) in the USA. The volume of ads, media channel (direct mail, print, online, email), estimated spend and households reached was summarised overall and by brand in 2013. Direct mail, email and print ads were coded for content and the target audience of print publications was examined.

Results Over the study period, 205 menthol cigarette ads were identified with estimated expenditures exceeding US$31 million, with 70% spent on direct mail ads. Over 90% of ads promoted Camel, Marlboro and Newport menthol cigarettes. A majority (87%) of direct mail ads contained coupons or other incentives known to appeal to price-sensitive customers. Only two brands’ print ads appeared during this period: Newport ads focused on themes of sociability and sexuality, and were placed in magazines targeting African-Americans and younger consumers; American Spirit print ads were placed in general interest magazines and predominantly stressed the ‘natural’ aspects of their brand.

Discussion The tobacco industry continues to spend millions of dollars promoting menthol cigarettes through channels that preferentially target vulnerable subgroups, such as African-Americans and younger consumers. Public health campaigns to educate and combat the influence of menthol advertising are needed.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Media
  • Tobacco industry
  • Surveillance and monitoring

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.