Context: The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) restricted tobacco industry advertising practices that targeted teens.
Objective: To assess whether cigarette-advertising campaigns conducted after the MSA continue to influence smoking among adolescents.
Design, setting, and participants: Participants were a national longitudinal cohort of 1036 adolescents (baseline age: 10-13 years) enrolled in a parenting study. Between 2003 and 2008, 5 sequential telephone interviews were conducted, including the participant's report of brand of "favorite" cigarette advertisement. The fifth interview was conducted after the start of RJ Reynolds' innovative "Camel No. 9" advertising campaign in 2007. Smoking outcome reported from the fifth survey.
Results: The response rate through the fifth survey was 71.8%. Teenagers who reported any favorite cigarette ad at baseline (mean age: 11.7 years) were 50% more likely to have smoked by the fifth interview (adjusted odds ratio: 1.5 [95% confidence interval: 1.0-2.3]). For boys, the proportion with a favorite ad was stable across all 5 surveys, as it was for girls across the first 4 surveys. However, after the start of the Camel No. 9 advertising campaign, the proportion of girls who reported a favorite ad increased by 10 percentage points, to 44%. The Camel brand accounted almost entirely for this increase, and the proportion of each gender that nominated the Marlboro brand remained relatively stable.
Conclusions: After the MSA, adolescents continued to be responsive to cigarette advertising, and those who were responsive were more likely to start smoking. Recent RJ Reynolds advertising may be effectively targeting adolescent girls.