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Cigarette Maker Slammed for Ads Pushing Marlboros on Teens

Teen smokers are allegedly the target of a Marlboro cigarette advertising campaign, consumer groups charge. The cigarette maker denies it.

Teen smokers are allegedly the target of a Marlboro cigarette advertising campaign, consumer groups charge. The cigarette maker denies it.

Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is under pressure from consumer groups to ditch its controversial “Be Marlboro” advertising campaign. The groups claim it’s designed to encourage teens to smoke.

A report, released today (Mar. 12) titled “You’re the Target,” is a calling on governments worldwide to ban all marketing, promotion and sponsorships by tobacco companies.

Philip Morris spent an estimated $62 million worldwide on the campaign in 2012, according to a report from the groups.

The campaign is allegedly designed to revamp Marlboro’s brand image among “young adult smokers” and replace the Marlboro Man, an icon of cigarette advertising for more than four decades, according to Ad Age.

The coalition of consumer groups includes Crporate Accountability International, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Alliance for the Control of Tobacco Use, Tobacco Control Alliance, Framework Convention Alliance, InterAmerican Heart Foundation and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.

Philip Morris first rolled out the campaign in 2011 in Germany and has introduced it in more than 50 countries, many of which have laws against marketing cigarettes to teens.

Although Philip Morris insists it does not market to children in Third World countries, 22 percent of five- and six-year-olds in developing countries were to identify Marlboro as “the world’s best-selling cigarette brand.”

“The tactics to get teens to smoke in the U.S. were being exported to low- and middle- income countries where regulations had yet to take root,” said
John Stewart, a spokesman at Corporate Accountability International.

Philip Morris maintains that the campaign is aimed strictly at adults.

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