In the United States, the drive to push smoking out of the limelight has been largely successful. You won’t see advertisements for smoking on TV. The FDA carefully approves or disapproves of new tobacco products, and most places, you don’t see smoking in bars and restaurants. However, in other countries, smoking is still an extremely strong product. A recent study took a look at five and six-year-old children living in the countries with highest smoking rates to determine whether or not those youngsters would recognize popular cigarette brands. The results varied by country, but in China, nearly 9 out of 10 children could identify at least one cigarette brand logo.

Researchers headed to six countries across the world known for having high smoking rates: Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, and China. The children involved in the study sat down one-on-one with researchers and were asked to match logos with correct pictures, including Camel and Marlboro, as well as brands that were popular within the specific countries being studied. The lowest rates actually came out of Russia, where only half of the children were capable of getting at least one of the matches. The highest rates came out of China, where 86% of the kids being studied were able to match at least one logo with one brand name.

Back in the day, similar studies in the United States found that kids of the same age could recognize Old Joe Camel at the same rates that they recognized Mickey Mouse. The impact that the tobacco industry can have on even young children is astounding and the new study serves to support that. The fact that almost 9 out of 10 children in the study based out of China recognized at least one of the brands is startling, but what may be more shocking is that over 25% of the children in the study could recognize 2-3 brands and that 18% could recognize four or more brands—at least half of the eight brands introduced to each of the participants. While that would not seem like a lot if we were talking adults, the fact that young children understood the branding for these cigarettes cannot be understated.

The study was published in the journal Pedriatics, and is available for free on the site. The researchers also asked the kids whether or not they planned to smoke as adults. While many of these children have probably not decided on this yet, 30% of kids from India announced they would like to be adult smokers. I’m sure that in those cases culture doesn’t help, but brand recognition obviously doesn’t, either.



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