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Drop Comes Despite Record Ad Expenditures by Tobacco Firms, FTC Study Shows : Cigarette Sales Falling for 1st Time Since 1969

Associated Press

Cigarette sales are falling for the first time since 1969 despite record advertising expenditures by tobacco companies, the Federal Trade Commission reported Tuesday.

Cigarette sales fell to 632 billion cigarettes in 1982 from 636 billion cigarettes in 1981--the first drop in cigarette sales in 13 years, the agency said in a report to Congress.

The two-year study showed that cigarette sales continued to drop from 1982 to 1983, when national sales shrank to 584.4 billion cigarettes.

At the same time, spending on cigarette advertising climbed to nearly $2.7 billion in 1983, the highest level ever, the commission said. That was up from $1.9 billion in 1982 and $1.5 billion in 1981.

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Cigarette manufacturers led all other national advertisers in newspaper advertising and ranked second in magazine advertising, the commission noted.

The commission began monitoring cigarette sales and advertising in 1965, when federal law began requiring all cigarette packages and ads to contain health warnings. Cigarette advertising on television and radio was barred beginning in 1971.

“During 1982-83, cigarette manufacturers continued to concentrate on associating smoking with success and a luxurious life style,” the commission observed. “Ads were designed to imply a relationship between smoking and healthy living by using sports and outdoor activities.”

Cigarette ads are often set in scenic areas with smiling people engaged in healthy activities, the study observed.

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“Noticeable, however, was a trend away from showing smokers actually participating in active sports,” the commission added.

While cigarette sales were not broken down by brand name, the study said Marlboro, made by Philip Morris, was the largest advertiser, spending $75.8 million in 1982. It was closely followed by Brown & Williamson’s Kool brand, with expenditures of $74.3 million, the FTC said.

While total sales of cigarettes had continued to increase until 1982, at least some of that increase was associated with population growth. Per-capita consumption of cigarettes peaked in 1973 at 4,112 cigarettes annually and has been declining since then. Per-capita cigarette consumption fell to 3,731 cigarettes in 1982 and 3,447 in 1983.

By 1983, the FTC study said, filtered brands had captured 91% of the cigarette sales market, up from 58% in 1963. Menthol brands accounted for 28% of sales, up from 16% over the same period.

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