Surveys Expose Websites that Market Alcohol and Tobacco to Youth

Tracking and analyzing online marketing of tobacco and alcohol products

In 1998, the Center for Media Education (CME) tracked and analyzed tobacco and alcohol companies' online marketing practices with special appeal to youth. It also conducted public education on these practices targeted towards the health and public policy communities, and the press.

CME conducted one survey each of tobacco- and alcohol-oriented websites, reviewed proposed regulations and technologies designed to protect children from harmful interactive advertising.

Key Findings

CME's two reports, Alcohol Advertising Targeted at Youth on the Internet: An Update, and Tobacco Advertising Targeted at Youth on the Internet: An Update, showed that:

  • Alcohol companies are increasingly using websites and employing marketing formats that could appeal to children and teenagers.

  • Cigarette companies are reluctant to establish a presence on the Web to market their products; however, pro-smoking culture sites that appeal to youth, and glamorize smoking are proliferating, with features such as chat rooms and bulletin boards.

  • Cigar sites are also proliferating on the Web, but they appeal mostly to older consumers.

  • The new technology of digital television (DTV)—which combines the power of computers with the reach of television—is rapidly maturing and could enable companies to market directly to individual children or teenagers products that are illegal for them or harmful to their health.