Quit Victoria says comprehensive tobacco advertising bans and more extensive adult quitting programs are essential measures to reduce teen smoking.
Quit Executive Director Todd Harper said new research revealed that Victoria's most popular tobacco brands amongst children are the most advertised in tobacco retail outlets, and were also the brands most likely to be stocked by tobacco outlets.
'We need to remember that 80 per cent of smokers start before the age of 18 years, and this new research may help to explain how children choose their cigarette brand,' Mr Harper said.
Mr Harper also released a Philip Morris marketing document for Peter Jackson, by far the most popular brand with children in Victoria that highlights a deliberate strategy of keeping the brand prominent in confectionery outlets.
'Despite the tobacco industry's claims to the contrary, kids remain a key target of the industry.'
He said another factor that determined children's smoking preferences, was that children tended to smoke the brands that adults smoked.
'It shows the importance of adults leading by example,' he said
'It is important to note that smoking rates among children of smoking parents, are double the rate of smoking among children on non-smoking parents.'
Mr Harper said it was vital to allocate resources to adult quitting programs - not only will adults be saving their own life, but possibly that of their children.
The study has also found that nearly 10 per cent of tobacco retailers were selling tobacco gifts with purchase, despite the practice being illegal in Victoria.
'Quit Victoria has long campaigned for this practice to be stamped out because research that shows that such gifts can contribute to smoking experimentation by children.'
Gifts sold included lighters, a free packet of cigarettes, CD cases, watches and a lighter pen.
The research launched today, was conducted by the Anti-Cancer Council's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer in April 2000. It surveyed the extent of cigarette advertising in 222 retail outlets across Melbourne.
Some of the study's key findings include:
The most common forms of point of sale advertising were on cigarette dispensing units, and on display cases on the counter;
The most popular brands among children smokers, are the most likely to be stocked in outlets;
Illuminated advertising signage was also found in 40% of outlets;
Nearly 10 per cent of all outlets offered gifts with tobacco purchases, with almost a quarter of supermarkets offering gifts;
Only 5% of outlets surveyed had no cigarette advertising at all;
Nearly 60% of shops surveyed carried no internal warning signs about illegally selling cigarettes to children.
This study shows cigarette advertising at the point of sale included a wide variety of materials, from display cases, pop out cards on sales units, posters, illuminated signage, floor signs, clocks and stickers to hanging display cards and counter mats.
The six most popular brands amongst under-18s in Victoria, in order, are Peter Jackson, Winfield, Longbeach, Benson and Hedges, Horizon and Marlboro. Five of these brands also feature in the seven most popular adult brands.
The most advertised brand of cigarettes in all stores surveyed was Peter Jackson, which was also the brand most commonly sold in shops.
Winfield was the most advertised on 'pop-out' advertising cards on dispensers, posters, counter mats, and was the second most commonly sold in shops.
In order, the most advertised brands were Peter Jackson, Lucky Strike, Winfield, Superkings, Benson and Hedges, and Marlboro.
Quit Executive Director Todd Harper says the study's finding's supported bans on tobacco advertising at the point of sale, and minimising displays of cigarette packets at point of sale.
'Clearly cigarette manufacturers are putting considerable effort into tobacco advertising in shops, and that is where children are exposed to such advertising.'
He said the findings of the study endorsed amendments to Victoria's Tobacco Act passed unanimously by Parliament last year, which will see cigarette advertising banned in shops from July 1 this year.
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