Smoking is very bad for your health. It’s especially bad for teens in adolescence because their brain is still developing. Smoking can have very negative effects on a child’s brain development. A study done by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett showed the effects that cigarette advertisements have on adolescents ages 12-17 years old. His paper gave a lot of previous knowledge about the effects advertisements had on adolescence which is the part in this paper I will be focusing on.

In recent year the issue of cigarette advertising in regard to adolescence has been widely debated and discussed. For example, in 1987 RJR-Nabisco created a cartoon called Joe Camel. Some scholars came with evidence showing that the cartoon character “Joe Camel was highly popular among young people.” (Arnett) RJR-Nabisco argued against this evidence calling to question to what extent did his cartoon actually promote smoking in youth. Even so, RJR-Nabisco removed his cartoon from advertisements because of public criticism and legal action from the state of California. Then in 1998 attorney generals from over 40 different states wanted compensation from major tobacco companies for the state’s health care costs which was “due to illnesses caused by smoking.” (Arnett) A settlement was agreed upon in which tobacco companies would ban cigarette advertisements on billboards so children could not be exposed to them. They also had to fund an anti-smoking campaign that was directed towards adolescence ages 10 to 17. They also agreed to not target minors with cigarette ads, even though they denied ever doing so.

When looking at adolescence and cigarette advertising two of the three main types of research that have been conducted are: content analyses and epidemiological studies. In content analyses, it’s been shown that youthful themes were present in cigarette ads. Albert et al looked at 778 cigarette ads in magazines from the year 1960 to 1985. He found that cigarette ads with relatively high viewers under the age of 18 were more likely to were more likely than other cigarette ads to feature “images of risk-taking and youthful recreation.” (Arnett) Some epidemiological studies show the there is a relationship between specific cigarette ads and adolescence. For example, Pollay et al traced tobacco companies making specific brand advertisements in relation to the brand choice of cigarettes. The ads were targeted to adolescents between the ages of 12-18 and adults from 1970 to 1993. The effect that ads advertising had on an adults brand choice wasn’t strong for adults but its effect on adolescence was three times as strong.

Advertisements were a key factor back then in how young teens were able to find out about what cigarettes were at such a young age. Tobacco companies would target their advertisements to young people and from the above research, we know its effect was three times stronger than adults. The cigarettes ads would contain images such as young people taking risks or partaking in youthful activities that looked appealing to other young people. This would show cigarettes in a favorable light, therefore, more teens would buy it. In the ends advertisement and branding is a powerful tool then can be used negatively positively.


“Content analyses have found that cigarette advertisements in magazines frequently present images with youthful themes” | My annotation: Here the article is disproving the cigarette companies bold claim that their cigarettes were not advertised to the youth specifically.

“In 1998, the issue of adolescents’ responses to cigarette advertisements was central to the settlement of litigation brought by attorneys general from over 40 states against the major tobacco companies for compensation of the states’ health-care costs due to illnesses caused by smoking.” | My annotation: When cigarettes were advertised they had negative effects on people’s health because they were being advertised as something good to smoke.

“They concluded that the effect of advertising on brand choice was three times as strong for adolescents as for adults.” | My annotation: After researchers looked at tobacco companies specific branding to the youth they saw that adolescents are 3x more affected. This means that a majority of the people drawn to the tobacco is going to be youth.

 ~ Sources ~

JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON ADOLESCENCE, 11(4), 425–443Copyright © 2001, Society for Research on Adolescence

image_printPrint this page.


0 0 votes
Rate This Post
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Email Call or Text 917-612-3006

Missions on Youth Voices
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account