industry's own documents show that most youth smoking prevention programs it has supported
are designed to promote industry political and marketing aims rather than to reduce
smoking, according to researchers who analyzed nearly 500 industry documents.
The analysis, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health,
found no evidence that the industry's youth programs ever discussed nicotine addiction or
identified other dangers of smoking. Rather, they often stressed the "adult"
choice that smoking constitutes, a theme that one key internal Tobacco Institute document
said with some hope "might prevent or delay further regulation of the tobacco
The researchers analyzed documents made available by tobacco litigation during the
1990s. They conclude that tobacco industry youth programs do more harm than good to
efforts to reduce cigarette smoking. They further suggest that the tobacco industry
"should not be allowed to run or directly fund youth smoking prevention
Lead author is Anne Landman, BA, tobacco document researcher at the American Lung
Association of Colorado. Senior author is Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and a
director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF. Co-author is Pamela M. Ling, MD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow at
UCSF's Center for AIDS Prevention.
One piece of evidence that the youth programs were designed to serve the industry's
political aims comes from a 1991 Philip Morris document stating that the success of the
"youth initiatives" would be determined by whether they led to a "reduction
in legislation introduced and passed restricting or banning our sales and marketing
activities" as well as "passage of legislation favorable to the industry,"
the authors report.
Although the expressed goal of the youth smoking prevention programs is to discourage
youth from taking up the smoking habit, the researchers could find no evidence in any
documents of industry studies to evaluate the program's success in achieving this goal.
Instead, the authors state, the industry assessed in great detail the public relations
and legislative outcomes associated with its youth smoking prevention programs. In the
mid-1980s, for example, the Tobacco Institute asked its lobbyists to rate its youth
prevention programs' value as a legislative tool. Furthermore, the kinds of information
the companies gathered from participants in the youth programs were very similar to the
information tobacco marketers need to sell their products to young people: lifestyle,
social habits, aspirations, and attitudes about smoking (or not smoking).
"The tobacco industry is aggressively expanding similar programs worldwide,"
Glantz stressed. "No health department or school should be fooled by the tobacco
industry's 'youth smoking prevention programs.' If the industry was serious about reducing
youth smoking, it would stop fighting real tobacco control programs, such as those being
mounted in several states and by the American Legacy Foundation."
The authors observe that the few studies that have been done on the subject conclude
that tobacco industry youth prevention programs "do not prevent - and may even
encourage - youth smoking."
The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute.
In a related paper in the June issue of the AJPH, Ruth Malone, assistant professor of
nursing and health policy in the UCSF School of Nursing department of social and
behavioral sciences, concludes from examination of documents that the tobacco industry
engaged in aggressive intelligence gathering, used intermediaries to obtain material under
false pretenses and covertly taped public health group strategy sessions from 1985 through