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February 10, 1993

Removing the Incentive to Sell Kids TobaccoA Proposal

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division, and the Institute for Health Policy Studies and Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco. Dr Glantz has testified as an expert witness on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

JAMA. 1993;269(6):793-794. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060093038

THE TOBACCO companies have a strong financial incentive to recruit children as new smokers. Every day 1200 smokers die and another 3500 stop smoking. Once a smoker is addicted, he or she can be expected to generate a daily revenue stream for the tobacco industry for 20 or more years. Since very few people begin smoking after they reach adulthood, the tobacco industry must recruit children. Tobacco advertising should not be viewed as a current expenditure but as a long-term investment. It is worth the high cost of advertising because it generates future profits.1,2 As a result, these children-smokers are crucial to the industry's long-term health. The tobacco companies regularly and emphatically assert that "We don't want kids to smoke," yet they spend billions on advertising campaigns featuring cowboys and cartoon characters. Not surprisingly, Marlboro and Camel are the brands most commonly smoked by kids; in California, 59% of