Objectives: This study examined among youth the extent of their perceived exposure to cigarette marketing and the relationship of their perceptions to their smoking behavior.
Methods: Surveys measuring exposure to cigarette advertisements and promotions were completed by 571 seventh graders in San Jose, Calif.
Results: Eighty-eight percent of these 13-year-olds reported exposure to cigarette marketing: the majority often saw ads in magazines, on billboards, and at stores and events, and one quarter owned cigarette promotional items. After social influences to smoke were controlled for, exposure to cigarette marketing was related to self-reported smoking behavior. Likelihood of experimenting with smoking was 2.2 times greater among those who owned promotional items and 2.8 times greater among those who had received mail from a tobacco company. Seeing cigarette advertisements in magazines increased this likelihood by 21%, and seeing tobacco marketing in stores increased it by 38%.
Conclusions: Youth are daily and widely exposed to tobacco industry marketing efforts; this exposure is related to smoking behavior. More effective regulation is needed.