Teens With a Brand Preference Choose To Smoke, Drink More Often

May 21, 1997

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Teens with a preference for a particular brand of cigarette or beer are using those substances more and are more likely to use them in the future, according to a study of more than 4,000 ninth- and 11th-grade students.

"Research shows that knowledge of beer and cigarette brands alone does not indicate usage. However, our study shows that having a preferred brand seems to be a factor in both current use and intention to use in the future," says Robert. A. Lewis, the Norma H. Compton Distinguished Professor of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University and expert on drug abuse.

A large proportion of students reported having cigarette or beer brand preferences regardless of whether they were regular users. "Two-thirds of the regular cigarette smokers indicated a preferred brand, and even among those who had smoked only once or twice, 12 percent had a brand preference," Lewis says.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Substance Abuse.

Overall, the older the student, the more likely it was that they would have a beer or cigarette brand preference, with preferences tending to increase with each grade. "Adolescents are more likely to have a preferred brand of beer than brand of cigarette, which runs parallel with alcohol and cigarette usage rates," Lewis says.

Lewis says other researchers have found that adolescent smokers are more aware of cigarette advertisements than non-smokers. And persons with a favorable response to cigarette advertising are more likely to smoke that first cigarette. "While this study cannot conclude that brand preferences were directly tied to cigarette and beer advertising, we do think this is the case," Lewis says. "The development of brand preference or loyalty is the declared goal of advertising."

The study was based on data from drug use questionnaires distributed to students at 47 schools in northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois. The study was conducted by Lewis and two former Purdue doctoral students. It was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

CONTACT: Lewis, (765) 448-4193; e-mail, lewisr@cdfs.cfs.purdue.edu

Purdue University

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