January 26, 2014

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

New paper describes how tobacco companies target poor women

Cati Brown, Lucy England, Pam Ling and I just published "Tobacco industry marketing to low socioeconomic status women in the USA" in Tobacco Control,

We used previously secret tobacco industry documents to shows that tobacco companies focused marketing on low SES women starting in the late 1970s, including military wives, low-income inner-city minority women, ‘discount-susceptible’ older female smokers and less-educated young white women. Strategies included distributing discount coupons with food stamps to reach the very poor, discount offers at point-of-sale and via direct mail to keep cigarette prices low, developing new brands for low SES females and promoting luxury images to low SES African-American women. More recently, companies integrated promotional strategies targeting low-income women into marketing plans for established brands.

Strategies to counteract marketing to low SES women could include (1) counteracting price discounts and direct mail coupons that reduce the price of tobacco products, (2) instituting restrictions on point-of-sale advertising and retail display and (3) creating counteradvertising that builds resistance to psychosocial targeting of low SES women.  These women are also targeted with menthol cigarettes, which makes strong action on menthol an important health equity issue that the FDA still has not addressed (by simply banning menthol).

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