Bar and Club Tobacco Promotions in the Alternative Press: Targeting Young Adults

Objectives. This study examined changes in tobacco promotions in the alternative press in San Francisco and Philadelphia from 1994 to 1999. Methods. A random sample of alternative newspapers was analyzed, and a content analysis was conducted. Results. Between 1994 and 1999, numbers of tobacco advertisements increased from 8 to 337 in San Francisco and from 8 to 351 in Philadelphia. Product advertisements represented only 45% to 50% of the total; the remaining advertisements were entertainment-focused promotions, mostly bar-club and event promotions. Conclusions. The tobacco industry has increased its use of bars and clubs as promotional venues and has used the alternative press to reach the young adults who frequent these establishments. This increased targeting of young adults may be associated with an increase in smoking among this group.

...The tobacco industry appears to be successful in reaching this target audience of young adults aged 18 to 24 years. Members of this age group continue to be vulnerable to marketing of tobacco, because many of them are in the later stages of smoking initiation and, as a result, are still in the process of solidifying their addiction to tobacco. Young adults are not immune to "late" initiation of smoking (i.e., smoking their first cigarettes after the age of 18 years or 21 years). In the past, and among different ethnic groups, first use has been shown to occur after adolescence. Directed marketing toward young adults in social settings such as bars and nightclubs may raise the age at initiation toward what it was in the past. Current increases in young adult smoking, in terms of both overall prevalence and first use, suggest that this directed marketing is having an impact... The presence of these promotions in other states may help to impede the passage of smoke-free bar laws or create compliance problems... [Edward Sepe, MS and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, Vol 92, No. 1, pp. 75-78, January 2002]

This case study captures the historical development of Trend Influence Marketing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, beginning with the clandestine recruitment of smoking "hipsters" who surreptitiously peddle tobacco products to unsuspecting young adults, and tracks weekly tobacco industry penetration into the market using the "free" alternative publication, Weekly Alibi.

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