The formal settlement signed in 1998 between US cigarette manufacturers and the attorneys-general of several states was followed by an immediate surge in the volume of magazine cigarette advertising, according to a study by two university academics, reports the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, based on an analysis of fifteen cigarette brands across thirty-eight magazines between 1995-2000 was carried out by Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health and Charles King III of Harvard Business School. The project was part-funded by the office of California’s attorney general, co-plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing R J Reynolds of violating the 1998 agreement [WAMN: 15-Aug-01].

The analysis noted that overall cigarette ad expenditures jumped 33% to $291.1 million in 1999 from $219.3m in 1998, whereas ads in youth-oriented magazines, such as Rolling Stone, Elle and Sports Illustrated, rose 15% to $67.4 million in 1999 from $58.5 million in 1998.

By 2000 overall magazine ad spend by cigarette brands had declined sharply but youth-oriented advertising remained at a higher level than in 1995 – a date set by the study as the pre-settlement benchmark.

In June 2000, Philip Morris withdrew all ads in magazines with over two million young readers, or if 15% of the readers were under 18 years of age – the criteria agreed in the 1998 settlement. However, the other three manufacturers (Brown & Williamson, Lorillard and R J Reynolds) have yet to follow suit.

But according to media measurement specialist Competitive Media Reporting, cigarette adspend in the first quarter of 2001 – the most recent period for which data is available – has fallen by around 70% from the same period in 2000, from $117m to $35.9m. Some observers attribute this sudden parsimony to sharper scrutiny by state law officers

News source: Wall Street Journal