Teen Girls Still Lured by Cigarette Ads

Jeanne Sager
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Flickr: Photo by Valentin.Ottone

Smoking kills, but teen girls don't care -- not if there's a cute pink camel trying to sell them some ciggies.

The cigarette companies may have stopped actively marketing to kids more then a decade ago, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics found Camel ads that were heavy on cotton candy pink were a hit with girls 12 through 16.

Coming from the same company that used to lure kids in with a cartoon critter, the ads were placed in adult magazines popular with teen girls -- Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Vogue -- and used a play on words that not so thinly veiled a reference to love potion number 9.

The "Camel No. 9" ads promised the cigarettes were "light and luscious" and sported both roses and pink camels. One look at a re-run of the ad on USA Today, and I thought a cotton candy factory exploded -- there's that much pink.

So how did it affect girls? Teens who reported a favorite cigarette ad at the first interview with the researchers were 50 percent more likely to have actually smoked by the time they had their fifth interview. When the Camel No. 9 campaign hit, the number of girls reporting they had a favorite cigarette ad spiked 10 percent.

All that cutesy-wootsy cotton candy pink did nothing to draw in the boys, but for those of us raising girls, it's a red -- or should I say pink? -- flag.

Even with the economy cutting into smoking prevention programs, our daughters hear a lot more anti-smoking messages than we ever did, and yet the evidence shows they're willing to throw it all away when something cute and pink shows up. I can't believe all our girls are that materialistic or that willing to compromise on their values for something so small.

Do you worry your girls are too easily swayed by cute?

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