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Adults only: the prevalence of tobacco promotions in bars and clubs in the Boston area
  1. L Biener1,
  2. A L Nyman1,
  3. R L Kline2,
  4. A B Albers3
  1. 1Center for Survey Research, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Tobacco Control Resource Center, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Lois Biener
 Center for Survey Research, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125, USA;


Objective: To document the nature and prevalence of tobacco promotions in bars and clubs in a major US city.

Design: We conducted systematic observations in a representative sample of 38 establishments in the Boston area, half of which had been advertised in a tobacco company ad. We also observed seven events in six additional clubs hosting Camel Casbah promotions. Telephone interviews were later completed with club managers.

Main outcome measure: Use of branded give-away items, distribution of free cigarette samples, managers’ reports of costs and benefits of hosting promotions.

Results: The majority of the 38 clubs were observed to use bar paraphernalia including matchbooks with tobacco brand logos, regardless of their history of appearing in tobacco sponsored ads. Free cigarette samples were not observed at any of the sampled clubs, but were a feature of every Casbah event. Managers of clubs in the advertised group were somewhat more likely to report having hosted promotions, but 44% of managers of non-advertised clubs indicated that tobacco promotions had occurred in their establishments in the past. Approximately one third of club managers viewed public links with a tobacco company as a negative feature of hosting promotions.

Conclusions: Based on managers’ reports, tobacco promotions occurred in more than 50% of the Boston area entertainment venues frequented by young adults. Cigarette companies should be required to inform the attorney general of plans to conduct promotions in adult-only venues to facilitate monitoring of compliance with the Master Settlement Agreement. The negative health and business consequences of hosting promotions should be communicated to bar owners.

  • Master Settlement Agreement
  • bar promotions
  • tobacco marketing
  • young adults

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