Tobacco Companies Still Targeting Youth
To The Editor:
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the tobacco industry and multiple states. The MSA requires tobacco companies to comply with a list of provisions designed to prohibit marketing to youth, and increase tobacco prevention and cessation programs nationwide.
Since the inception of the MSA, national smoking rates have decreased. Recent surveys show that from 1997 to 2007, smoking rates declined by 45 percent among high school students and by 20 percent among adults.
In Colorado, 25 percent of high school students and nearly 17 percent of adults still smoke. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death and disease in the nation, killing more people annually than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, murder, illegal drugs and fire- combined. As a registered nurse, I am acutely aware of the devastating effects of tobacco use.
Research shows that despite the restrictions on tobacco marketing required by the MSA, tobacco companies have continued to aggressively market their products, especially to youth. Annual tobacco marketing expenditures have increased by 94 percent since 1998. In addition, the tobacco industry spends nearly $19 to market tobacco products for every $1 the states spend to prevent youth from smoking and help smokers quit.
It is clear that the tobacco industry is not our partner in prevention. In order to combat industry tactics, it is important for communities to be aware of Big Tobacco’s marketing techniques. To learn more please visit www.tobaccofreekids.org
Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN
Estes Park, CO