News REACTMT ads target dangers of youth tobacco use

New Montana TV ads illustrate corporate tobacco’s tactics to entice children via in-store advertising

Convenience stores and gas stations near schools are a popular hangout for kids. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, 70 percent of children visit convenience stores weekly.

For that reason, they’re a prime place to advertise tobacco products and e-cigarettes. With the tobacco industry now spending 90 percent of its advertising dollars in stores, the Montana Tobacco Use Program is addressing the industry’s point-of-sale advertising tactics with a new public education campaign.

“Two new TV ads highlight many of the tactics used in stores by the tobacco industry, such as sweet flavors, candy-like packaging, and strategic product placement,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “The tobacco industry needs to recruit a new generation of users, so they target children and young people.” In Montana, the industry spends more than $30 million each year on advertising. Studies demonstrate that this advertising influences kids to start using tobacco products. For example, a 2010 study in Pediatrics Journal found that the odds of smoking more than doubled for teens who visited a store with point-of-sale tobacco ads at least twice a week. Studies show 90 percent of smokers start before age 18. In Montana, 900 children under age 18 become daily smokers each year.

In Montana, youth are more likely to smoke cigarillos than conventional cigarettes. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 50 percent of Montana high school students have tried e-cigarettes. “We hope these ads illustrate some of the tactics being used in stores so that communities will understand how kids in Montana and across the nation are still being targeted by the tobacco industry,” said Opper said. E-cigarettes and tobacco products such as cigarillos and snus come in a wide variety of candy-like flavors, including grape, cherry, strawberry and fruit punch.

These flavors are attractive to young people because they are less harsh and act as a gateway to traditional cigarettes. They are entry products for young people to start using tobacco. To learn more about preventing tobacco use visit


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