camel cigarettes

A recent marketing campaign for Camel cigarettes appears to have attracted the interest of teen girls, a study shows.

The ads for Camel No. 9 cigarettes — which ran in magazines such as Vogue cigarettes, Cosmopolitan cigarettes and Glamour cigarettes — were a hit with girls ages 12 to 16, says a study of 1,036 adolescents published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Promotional giveaways for the new brand, which was launched in 2007, included berry-flavored lip balm, cellphone jewelry, purses and wristbands, the study says.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, which makes Camel cigarettes, says the ads were aimed at adults, noting that 85% of the magazines' readers are over 18. Tobacco companies agreed not to target kids as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with state attorneys general. He notes that teen smoking rates have continued to decline since the ads were introduced.

But the ads were clearly noticed by teenagers, says study co-author Cheryl Healton, president of the anti-smoking group the American Legacy Foundation, which interviewed teens about their awareness of cigarette brands.

In 2008, within a year of the ads' debut, 22% of girls listed Camel cigarettes as their favorite cigarette ad. That's twice the number who listed Camel cigarettes as their favorite in four earlier interviews taken for the study. That suggests that it was the new campaign — not older Camel cigarettes products — that captured girls' attention, Healton says.

Being able to remember a tobacco ad shows that kids are taking an interest in cigarettes, says co-author John Pierce of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California-San Diego. Non-smoking teens who can name a favorite ad are 50% more likely to begin smoking than other kids, the study says.

There was no major change in boys' preferences. Overall, nearly half of girls could name a favorite cigarette ad, suggesting that ads are still reaching children, despite the marketing ban, Pierce says.

Howard says R.J. Reynolds pulled print ads for its cigarettes in 2008.

Ads don't need to include cartoon characters to appeal to young people, says the American Cancer Society's Tom Glynn. In fact, Camel Cigarettes ads that depict smoking as fashionable and grown-up actually make it more attractive to teens, he says. About 80% of smokers take up the habit before age 18.