Tobacco industry youth smoking prevention programs: protecting the industry and hurting tobacco control

Am J Public Health. 2002 Jun;92(6):917-30. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.6.917.


Objectives: This report describes the history, true goals, and effects of tobacco industry-sponsored youth smoking prevention programs.

Methods: We analyzed previously-secret tobacco industry documents.

Results: The industry started these programs in the 1980s to forestall legislation that would restrict industry activities. Industry programs portray smoking as an adult choice and fail to discuss how tobacco advertising promotes smoking or the health dangers of smoking. The industry has used these programs to fight taxes, clean-indoor-air laws, and marketing restrictions worldwide. There is no evidence that these programs decrease smoking among youths.

Conclusions: Tobacco industry youth programs do more harm than good for tobacco control. The tobacco industry should not be allowed to run or directly fund youth smoking prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Advertising / standards
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Deception
  • Documentation
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / standards
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Politics
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Public Health Practice*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco Industry / methods*
  • Tobacco Industry / standards
  • Tobacco Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • United States