Long gone are the days of Joe Camel and his cartoon pals gamboling across cigarette ads and peering out from packages, but does that mean kids don’t recognize certain brands of smokes when they see them? Nope, says one study — even without blatant gimmicks to draw in the younger set, children can still tell cigarette logos apart from each other.
Back in 1991, researchers working on a study about kids and cigarettes found that 91% of 6-year-olds surveyed could match Old Joe’s cartoon character with a photo of a cigarette, making him on par with Mickey Mouse so far as recognition goes. One might think things have changed in the two decades since, but alas, says a new study, not so much.
A study in Pediatrics published online today found that around the world, children are paying attention to cigarette marketing. Researchers saw 68% of 2,400 children ages 5 and 6, surveyed in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia could correctly identify at least one cigarette brand logo in a game that matched objects with logos.
The authors of the study point to previous studies showing that when kids are exposed to tobacco marketing, they’re more likely to smoke cigarettes as adults. Therefore, the authors write, stronger regulations are required to better protect “this vulnerable population” from the “great efforts” of tobacco companies to encourage kids to use such products.
Removing logos altogether from product packaging or setting up minimum distances between retailers that sell cigarettes and areas kids frequent could serve to keep cigarettes from becomign too familiar to children, suggest the authors.