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Godfather Part VI: The Tobacco Companies


By Paul Wheeler

November 6, 1995

The embattled tobacco companies are trying to put out yet another public relations fire, this one caused, not by smoking in bed, but by a new study that reports that cigarette makers increase advertising in January and February when millions of smokers are trying to stick to New Year's resolutions to kick the habit. Every time the smokers try to get out, they keep dragging them back in.

The reports authors, including a Stanford researcher, contend that while cigarette manufacturers are spending less overall on advertising, they are getting more strategic about how they target their dollars. After examining 1000 cigarette ads in various magazines, the researchers found that the number of ads nearly doubles in January in February.

What's the logic? Well, prior studies have shown that cigarette smokers frequently resolve to quit around the New Year and that withdrawal symptoms tend to peak about one month after quitting, just in time for the deluge of ciggie ads. A spokesperson from Phillip Morris called the study flawed and said that, if anything, the number of ads increases in the spring and summer. There was no comment about whether this was timed to coincide with summer break from school.

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