‘Great deals’ can turn out to be bad ones

In today’s economy, we all look for sales prices, coupons, and buy-one-get-one-free offers. We like to do what we can to save money when we shop, whether for groceries, clothing, gifts, or household items. The better the deal, the more likely we are to purchase the item, buy in greater quantity, and stick with the brand that gives us a discount.

This is also true when people buy tobacco – and youth are no exception to the rule. It shouldn’t surprise us-we know how it works: Some young people consider using tobacco; teens don’t generally have a lot of money; they find “great deals” on tobacco products; they make purchases they may not have otherwise made and perhaps buy in greater quantities. Thus the tobacco companies have achieved their goal of garnering new customers, young smokers who will become loyal to their brand.

While this comes as no surprise, it should concern us, because this is not happening to our young people by chance. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2011 alone, tobacco companies spent about $7 billion on strategies to reduce the price of cigarettes for consumers. They’re very aware that, as the surgeon general tells us, young people are even more price-sensitive than adults. So while adults older than 18 are legally able to purchase tobacco products, we must once again ask ourselves who the companies are really going after.

If this concerns you, there are a few things you can do. Educate your local elected officials about the negative impact tobacco price discounts and coupons have on the prevalence of smoking among youth. Don’t purchase tobacco products for anyone younger than 18. Visit www.projectactionhfm.org/ for more information.


HFM Prevention Council