Witness says cigarettes marketed to youth on family TV shows

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — One woman juror kept time with the music as the theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies” was played Monday in Minnesota’s tobacco trial to show how cigarettes were marketed to youth.
In the introduction to the television show, Jed Clampett and his family drove their jalopy alongside a Winston truck. The theme music ended with the sponsor’s slogan, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”
The 1963 ad and others from “The Flintstones” cartoon show aired in the early 1960s were introduced during the testimony of Cheryl Perry, an expert on youth smoking from the University of Minnesota.
The programs were popular family shows in the early 1960s. By integrating the cigarette commercials, Perry said, “a young person would begin to see smoking, or Winstons, as a part of normal life.”
Such advertising, she said, plays an important part in a youngster’s decision to begin smoking. She also cited television commercials showing the Marlboro man and print ads for Camel cigarettes featuring the cartoon character Joe Camel.
The ads were shown by the state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in their lawsuit to recover $1.77 billion they say was spent treating smoking-related illness. They also are seeking punitive damages.
The plaintiffs allege the tobacco industry knew about the dangers of smoking and hid their knowledge while marketing to youth and manipulating nicotine to keep people hooked.
Perry said internal tobacco industry documents show cigarette makers considered underage smokers critical to their future business and tracked the smoking habits of children for decades.
“The tobacco companies viewed smokers under age 18 as what they called replacement smokers; that without them their market would die,” Perry said.
“They know that the teen-age years, that’s when people begin to smoke and that’s when they begin to make their brand selection,” said Perry, who helped prepare the 1994 Surgeon General’s report on preventing tobacco use among young people.
Perry cited documents from Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. during her testimony.
A 1984 Reynolds marketing document specifically addressed the importance of young smokers.
“Today’s young adult smoking behavior will largely determine the trend of industry volume over the next several decades,” the document said.
The importance of young people to the tobacco industry is not in how many cigarettes they smoke because their consumption will increase over time, Perry noted.