A new analysis of tobacco industry documents provides evidence that cigarette companies intentionally modified their products to promote female smoking by emphasizing attributes they knew would appeal to women stylishness and taste, as well as perceived health benefits. According to the authors, the study presents particularly troubling implications for world health, as tobacco companies seek to increase smoking among women in developing countries. The documents, made public following the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, are examined in a paper in the June 2005 issue of ADDICTION, an international scientific journal.
Previous studies demonstrated that marketing strategies have contributed to the association of smoking with appealing attributes including female liberation, glamour, success and thinness. Until now, however, the role of product design in targeting cigarettes to address how and why women smoke was less well understood.
"These internal documents reveal that the tobacco industry's targeting of women goes far beyond marketing and advertising," says lead author Carrie Murray Carpenter, M.S., Research Analyst, Tobacco Control Research and Training Program, Harvard School of Public Health. Carpenter and colleagues reveal that, for more than 20 years, the industry undertook a major effort to identify gender-based differences in motivational factors, smoking patterns, and product preferences in order to promote smoking among women and girls.
The Carpenter team say the resulting products exploited mistaken health notions about the relative safety of light cigarettes; created false perceptions of social and health effects through reduced sidestream smoke, appearance and odor and improved aroma and aftertaste; matched female taste preferences through flavored, smooth and mild-tasting cigarettes; and targeted physiological and inhalation differences between wo
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