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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: In 1998 Phillip Morris (PM) launched a $100 million national campaign that claims to combat teen smoking, and created ads that specifically target different racial/ethnic groups. Many investigators have questioned the effectiveness of PMs Youth Smoking Prevention (YSP) program. We examined YSP efforts targeting youth with the highest smoking prevalence rates, American Indians.
Methods: 115 relevant documents were catalogued and abstracted from searches of the tobacco industry documents. In addition, interviews were conducted with two key informants from the ad agency which created the Native American ads for PM. Finally, commercial ratings data were used to estimate audience exposure to the Native American ads.
Results: The YSP campaign resulted in three Native American TV ads. Despite their appeal and high scores in market testing, the ratings data and internal documents indicate the ads ran in only 10 local markets over a three-month period in 2001. Key informants reported pressure by PM to emphasize culture over message, by creating a “soft sell” campaign. The Native American YSP initiative ended abruptly in early 2002. These data demonstrate a minimal effort by PM to address Native American youth smoking. Rather, an approach of Native American “tokenism” was evident, by the broken PM commitments, a lack of resources devoted to the distribution of the ads, and failure to fully implement the campaign. It is particularly urgent that researchers and program planners understand more about industry efforts to undermine American Indian communities, given the disproportionate burden of tobacco-related health problems.