Young Adults

The tobacco companies cannot legally market directly to kids, so what's the next best age group to target their promotional pitches? Young adults, of course.

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To the tobacco industry, young adults are a perfect target. A large proportion of young adults (18 to 25-year olds) are away from home for the first time, seeking independence and autonomy, and most importantly, they are legal adults, acknowledged by society as being able to make their own decisions. Young adults are the prime targets for recruitment. In recent years, the tobacco industry's special attention has worked: young adults have the highest smoking rate at 40 percent.

So what can you do?

Click here to learn Fast Ways to Tell the Tobacco Companies to "Butt Out!"

Learn what young adults around the country are doing to combat the tobacco industry's campaign:

Peri C. (middle) and Victoria H. (right), 6th graders in Wisconsin, stand together with Wisconsin Governor Doyle after he signed the Wisconsin smokefree workplaces bill into law (May 2009). Peri, an asthmatic and youth advocate, has gone to public hearings, testified, and made legislative visits concerning tobacco.

Student advocates from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) submitted a petition signed by 3,300 students in support of smokefree bars.





The tobacco companies spend more than $15 billion on marketing and advertising. Philip Morris (Altria) even uses the promotional tactic of "buzz" marketing to hook new smokers. Cigarette companies tailor advertising to appeal to young adults by placing advertising in pop-culture magazines, music concerts, and bars and night clubs; developing and offering trendy products; and giving away free goods, such as lighters, snowboards, and birthday coupons. Worse yet, cigarette companies get young adults to tout their promotional products at bars, clubs, and on college campuses, offering the newbies clothes, trips, or sporting goods in return.

Cigarette companies do their homework. They have spent millions of dollars testing campaign messages and conducting psychological studies on young adults to tailor their cigarette advertising to ensure they get the most bang for their buck (i.e., hook the most new smokers as possible).

Cigarette companies know that people in this age group are highly influenced by their peers. So if an attractive guy or girl offers you a free lighter in return for your email and cell phone number, the campaign has to be cool by association, right?

Wrong! Unless you want the tobacco industry filling up your Inbox, keep your contact information private!

Big Tobacco also buys influence and credibility by its commitment to college Greeks and athletes by sponsoring fraternity dances, paying for sports stadiums and uniforms, and contributing to sorority fundraisers. What does the tobacco industry seek to gain? More exposure and and an image of being a "good corporate citizen." If the football players and frat boys' jerseys have a Marlboro (Altria) insignia on it, the company has to be healthy by association, right?

Wrong! Don't let tobacco companies dupe you into serving as a billboard for the number one killer in the US and internationally.

American Spirit

Think these so-called 'natural' cigarettes are less deadly? Think again.

Don't be fooled by American Spirit's natural spin! You've probably seen how Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company markets its American Spirit cigarettes as a 100% additive-free, natural and organic product. But all tobacco is addictive and a killer, even without pesticides or preservatives. Your body won't miss those preservatives with all the nicotine and 3,000 cancer-causing chemicals still there in each "natural" cigarette.

American Spirit builds its image as an independent, alternative tobacco company-but did you know that it is owned by R.J. Reynolds, the second largest tobacco company in the U.S.? Not so independent anymore, are they?

This is just one more way that tobacco companies try to lure us into smoking. Some things never change.

"Discover the additive-free alternative death"

Check out this ad and site spoofing American Spirit's alternative image.




Fast Ways to Tell the Tobacco Companies to "Butt Out!"
  1. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Inform others of Big Tobacco's targeted marketing tactics, such as bar promotion nights and sponsoring collegiate sports and social events sponsorships, to hook a new generation of cigarette users: 40% of young adults are current smokers. Assert that you will not be one of their statistics.

  2. Resolve not to be a pawn of Big Tobacco. If you are on a college sports team or a member of a fraternity or sorority, have your group adopt a resolution, stating that it will not accept tobacco industry money or event sponsorships.

  3. Encourage a smokefree social scene. Encourage your favorite bar, club, and social hot spot to remove its ashtrays and tobacco industry coasters and posters, and to substitute them with 100% smokefree air. As a customer, subtly leave messages on receipts and cocktail napkins relating that, "The service and ambience was great, so it's too bad my evening was ruined by the secondhand smoke." Business owners and managers care what you think, so tell them.

  4. Support local smokefree air campaigns. Youth and young adult smoking rates are significantly lower in areas with smokefree bars, restaurants, and workplaces. It's hard for the tobacco companies to make its toxic product seem fashionable in smokefree settings. Contact ANR to locate a smokefree coalition near you.
Young Adult Marks the Spot
Smokefree News & Research

Kalkhoran, S.; Neilands, T.B.; Ling, P.M., "Secondhand smoke exposure and smoking behavior among young adult bar patrons," American Journal of Public Health [Epub ahead of print], September 12, 2013.

Caldeira, K.M.; O'Grady, K.E.; Garnier-Dykstra, L.M.; Vincent, K.B.; Pickworth, W.B.; Arria, A.M., "Cigarette smoking among college students: longitudinal trajectories and health outcomes," Nicotine & Tobacco Research 14: 777-785, 2012.

Berg, C.J.; An, L.C.; Thomas, J.L.; Lust, K.A.; Sanem, J.R.; Swan, D.W.; Ahluwalia, J.S., "Smoking patterns, attitudes and motives: unique characteristics among 2-year versus 4-year college students," Health Education Research [Epub ahead of print], March 29, 2011.

This study found that students attending two year colleges, as opposed to four year colleges, had higher rates of current and daily smoking, and lower levels of negative attitudes regarding smoking.

Foldes, B.A.; An, L.C.; Rode, P.; Schillo, P.; Davern, B.A.; Alesci, N.L.; Kinney, A.M.; Saul, J.; Zupan, B.A.; Manley, M.W., "The prevalence of unrecognized tobacco use among young adults," American Journal of Health Behavior 34(3): 309-321, May-June, 2010.

Using the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey, the authors of this study found that young adult tobacco use prevalence was 39 percent using the adolescent definition and 32 percent using the adult definition. They found that nearly one in five young adult smokers might have been considered a "previously unrecognized smoker" using the standard adult definition.

Hookah Use Widespread Among College Students Study Reveals Mistaken Perception ...
Newswise (press release) - April 5, 2011

Newswise ­ WINSTON-SALEM, NC – April 5, 2011 – Despite a growing number of cities instituting smoking bans across the country, hookah bars are cropping up everywhere – from chic downtown cafes to locations near college campuses, where they've found a ...

Grekin, E.R.; Ayna, D., "Argileh use among college students in the United States: an emerging trend," Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 69(3): 472-475, May 2008.

This survey of college students regarding their use of hookahs found that, "More than 15% of the sample reported having used argileh [hookah] at least once in their lifetime, exceeding the percentage of students who had tried stimulants, barbiturates, cocaine, Ecstasy, heroin, or psychedelics. Arab ethnicity and cigarette smoking were the strongest predictors of argileh use; however, a substantial percentage of non-Arabs and nonsmokers also had tried argileh." The study also discussed the health implications of hookah smoking.

Green, M.P.; McCausland, K.L.; Xiao, H.; Duke, J.C.; Vallone, D.M.; Healton, C.G., "A closer look at smoking among young adults: where tobacco control should focus its attention," American Journal of Public Health [Epub ahead of print], June 28, 2007.

This study compared smoking rates among young adults enrolled in college and those not enrolled and found that, "Current smoking prevalence among US young adults aged 1824 years who are not enrolled in college or who do not have a college degree was 30%. This was more than twice the current smoking prevalence among college-educated young adults (14%). Noncollege-educated young adults were more likely than were college-educated young adults to start smoking at a younger age and were less likely to have made a quit attempt, although no differences were found in their intentions to quit. Higher rates of smoking in the noncollege-educated population were also evident in the slightly older age group."

Early Use Of Nicotine Could Increase Susceptibility For Life-long Addiction
ScienceDaily Magazine, 2006-10-17

Nicotine exposure at a young age may alter the "hard-wiring" of the brain that occurs during adolescence and young-adulthood, contributing to future susceptibility for addiction, according to a University of Pittsburgh study being presented today at Neuroscience 2006, the 36th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience being held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

The research team, led by Jay W. Pettegrew, M.D., professor of psychiatry, used magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) to evaluate the effects of acute nicotine administration on nerve cell membranes -- the functional communication centers of the brain.

According to their findings, nicotine induced molecular and metabolic changes in the brain, which resulted in the breakdown of the nerve cell membranes. These changes were especially observed in males.

Houston, T.K.; Person, S.D.; Pletcher, M.J.; Liu, K.; Iribarren, C.; Kiefe, C.I., "Active and passive smoking and development of glucose intolerance among young adults in a prospective cohort: CARDIA study," British Medical Journal, doi:10.1136/bmj.38779.584028.55, April 7, 2006.

This study concluded that both actively smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke play a role in the development of glucose intolerance (a precursor of diabetes) in young adults.

Coupons Attractive to Young Smokers
March 8, 2006

Research Summary

Coupons offered by cigarette companies are especially effective at reaching young smokers, the New York Times reported March 7.

Researchers from the Center for Behavioral Research in Cancer, based in Australia, examined data from the 2002 California Tobacco Survey and tobacco-industry documents. They concluded that young adults, women, African-Americans, heavy smokers, and menthol smokers were the most likely to redeem tobacco coupons.

The industry is especially interested in reaching young smokers because they are seen as potentially being long-term customers, researchers noted. Companies can use the coupons to offset state-mandated tobacco taxes or subsidize smoking for low-income buyers, the study said.

The study appears in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

White, V.M., et al. (2006) Cigarette Promotional Offers: Who Takes Advantage? American Journal of Preventive Medicine 30(3), 225-231.

Against Tobacco Targets Colleges

R.J. Reynolds Halts Promotion After Backlash
Promo Magazine, 2005-12-15

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has decided to halt a promotion that couples cigarettes with heavy drinking. The promotion targets young adults and has come under attack from three state attorneys general, as well as public advocacy groups.