Intended for healthcare professionals


Cross sectional study of young people's awareness of and involvement with tobacco marketing

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 03 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:513
  1. Lynn MacFadyen (l.macfadyen{at}, research officer,
  2. Gerard Hastings, director,
  3. Anne Marie MacKintosh, senior researcher
  1. Centre for Tobacco Control Research, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G4 0RQ
  1. Correspondence to: L MacFadyen
  • Accepted 16 February 2001


Objectives: To examine young people's awareness of and involvement with tobacco marketing and to determine the association, if any, between this and their smoking behaviour.

Design: Cross sectional, quantitative survey, part interview and part self completion, administered in respondents' homes.

Setting: North east England.

Participants: Stratified random sample of 629 young people aged 15 and 16 years who had “opted in” to research through a postal consent procedure.

Results: There was a high level of awareness of and involvement in tobacco marketing among the 15–16 year olds sampled in the study: around 95% were aware of advertising and all were aware of some method of point of sale marketing. Awareness of and involvement with tobacco marketing were both significantly associated with being a smoker: for example, 30% (55/185) of smokers had received free gifts through coupons in cigarette packs, compared with 11% (21/199) of non-smokers (P<0.001). When other factors known to be linked with teenage smoking were held constant, awareness of coupon schemes, brand stretching, and tobacco marketing in general were all independently associated with current smoking status.

Conclusions: Teenagers are aware of, and are participating in, many forms of tobacco marketing, and both awareness and participation are associated with current smoking status. This suggests that the current voluntary regulations designed to protect young people from smoking are not working, and that statutory regulations are required.


  • Funding This study was largely funded by the Cancer Research Campaign, with additional support from the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Accepted 16 February 2001
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