How the Tobacco Industry Markets to Youth

teens outdoors

It is a widely known fact that the cigarette industry has marketed to teens and young adults using various methods for years. These deceitful marketing tactics have been used to ensure that the future of the tobacco industry remains prosperous and growing, completely disregarding the health and future of the young individuals they are targeting. One executive of from Lorillard Tobacco has even said, “[T]he base of our business is the high school student.” Companies will spend a significant portion of their marketing budget tracking the behaviors and preferences of individuals under 21 years of age in order to bolster their marketing efforts.

It is important to be aware of these marketing tactics so that you and your children (or future children) will be able Here are a few ways in which the cigarette industry continues to target teens and young adults.


Many tobacco companies target teens and young adults between 16 and 25 by advertising their cigarette products in popular magazines that are known to have a well-established, youthful reading audience.

Direct Mail

Tobacco companies will also send direct mail pieces to youth without verifying their age—one of the most effective methods of marketing in general.

Flavored Tobacco

Tobacco companies have even developed candy and fruit flavored cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. They do this without overtly stating that they are targeting youth aged consumers, but quite honestly, they don’t need to. It is obvious that younger demographics are going to be attracted to these types of flavors.

Strategic Selling Locations

Another key way in which tobacco companies target youth is through selling cigarettes at grocery stores that are near school zones. They do this by using large ads and billboards near these schools that are visible from the street and at youth eye-level to promote their product. They also offer coupons and point-of-sale discounts at these locations, making the product more accessible for a young person to buy.

Targeted Messages

The cigarette industry continues to reach youth through messages in their ads that resonate with younger demographics. Many teenagers worry about not feeling cool, and about the everyday stresses that come with attending school. Tobacco companies will mold their ads around these sentiments, portraying in their ads that smoking leads to a hip and stress-free lifestyle—a message that has a stronger impact than you think on young people.

Smoking in the Media

On a similar note, teens are exposed to films, TV shows, websites, and video games every day that contains images of teenagers and young adults smoking. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, rates of tobacco use in use could be reduced by 18% if tobacco incidents and impressions were eliminated in PG-13 films and movies with tobacco incidents received an R rating.