A Comparative Analysis of Teenagers Who Smoke Different Cigarette Brands

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study analyzed and compared the survey responses of teenagers who smoke different cigarette brands. It was found that teen Marlboro and Camel smokers perceived themselves as having more stress in their lives as compared with teen Newport smokers. On average, Marlboro smokers were depressed or sad more often than were Camel or Newport smokers. Camel smokers were generally less interested in a peer stop-smoking program than were Newport or Marlboro smokers. Finally, these teen smokers, regardless of cigarette brand, had similar opinions about quitting. Given the differences across brands, more flexible approaches may be needed to address teenage smoking.

According to the American Heart Association (1998), there are approximately 4.4 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 who smoke. Three thousand teenagers begin to smoke every day. Furthermore, "the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 90 percent of smokers begin tobacco use before age 20; 50 percent of smokers begin tobacco use by age 14; and 25 percent begin their smoking addiction by age 12" (American Heart Association, 1998).

Much has been written on the factors that influence teenage smoking. Peer influence, parental influence, advertising, and number of persons in the household who smoke are just a few of the factors that have been analyzed. The results, as well as conclusions about the best way to reduce teen smoking, have been varied. With few exceptions, these studies have dichotomized teenagers into smokers and nonsmokers. Herein may lie the problem-teenage smokers are not necessarily a homogeneous group. While it is true that differences in smoking behavior between males and females, and white and nonwhite individuals, have been investigated, few studies have examined teenagers who smoke different brands of cigarettes. if, for example, Marlboro smokers have attitudes that are different from Camel or Newport smokers, then research that groups them together will produce results that are misleading. Furthermore, the implication is that stop-smoking programs may need to be designed for specific types of teen smokers.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Why would there be differences in the attitudes and beliefs of teenagers who smoke different brands? It is not uncommon for firms to target a particular market for their product, the result being that consumers of that product are somewhat similar. As an example, people who subscribe to Reader's Digest are likely to have attitudes and interests that differ from those who subscribe to Forbes Magazine. In the case of cigarettes, it has been argued that Joe Camel advertisements targeted very young smokers. The cowboy images used by Marlboro are believed to be aimed at individuals who see themselves as rugged and strong. Thus, different types of teens may be drawn to the various brands of cigarettes because of the images associated with those brands (or some other reason, such as what their friends smoke), and their attitudes and concerns may vary accordingly. The purpose of the present study was to examine the attitudes and concerns of teen smokers who were classified by cigarette brand.

Krosnick and Judd (1982) explored the theory that peer influence on adolescent smoking behavior increased with age, while the influence of parents decreased. Using LISREL, they concluded that the influence of peers during adolescence did increase, but that the influence of parents did not change.

Stanton, Currie, Oei, and Silva (1996) found that peer influence declined during late adolescence. Logistic regression revealed that having a close friend who smoked influenced the smoking behavior of 15year-olds but not 18-year-olds.

Conrad, Flay, and Hill (1992) presented a comprehensive review of studies that analyzed the predictors of smoking behavior in children. The important explanatory variables included socioeconomic status, peer pressure, knowledge, attitudes, and self-esteem. …