In the 2012 Report on Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, the U.S. Surgeon General sounds the alarm for communities to respond to youth tobacco use by addressing the causes, including tobacco industry marketing to young people.
The most powerful marketing tool available to tobacco companies is product packaging and displays in stores. Tobacco companies spend more than $9.8 billion on retail marketing and promotion every year, more than the amount spent to market junk food, soda, and alcohol combined.
Most non-smoking adults don’t even notice the tobacco marketing and promotions in retail stores–they’ve become such a part of our everyday landscape. But kids do notice.
Tobacco product displays, on average, take up 34 sq feet of space in the most visible location in stores–directly behind the checkout counter.
On the left is a typical display. You may not notice, but kids do. Kids see. Kids notice. Kids remember.
Tobacco companies also put a great deal of thought into tobacco product packaging. Who are they marketing to by making tobacco products indistinguishable from candy?
Why do they sell cigarette-sized cigars in flavors including grape and strawberry?
Or the smokeless products that also come in fruity and minty flavors?