Objective: The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of November 1998 prohibited participating tobacco companies from directly or indirectly targeting youth in marketing. Widely publicised information in May 2000 showed increased cigarette advertising in magazines with substantial youth readership and companies were pressed to change their practices. The responses of the tobacco industry to the MSA and to the public pressure are examined.
Design: Expenditures on cigarette advertisements in national magazines in the USA are compared for three periods: January to November 1998, December 1998 to June 2000, and July 2000 to November 2001. Magazines in which at least 15% of readers are youth under age 18 are focused upon. Regression models test for the significance of period differences after controlling for seasonal and long term patterns.
Data sources: Commercially maintained data on advertising in US magazines and on magazine readership by age.
Key measures: Monthly cigarette ad expenditures in magazines with 15%+ youth readership, and monthly proportion of ad expenditures in 15%+ youth magazines.
Results: Cigarette advertising expenditures in magazines with 15%+ youth readership increased dramatically after MSA implementation and fell dramatically after public pressure. The percentage allocation of expenditures to 15%+ magazines fell significantly in both periods. Results differ somewhat by company.
Conclusions: The tobacco industry response to the MSA was at best modest, reducing proportional allocations of advertising to youth magazines but increasing the absolute amount of such advertising. The value of public pressure was seen in substantial reductions in both absolute and proportional spending on youth magazines, although not by all companies.