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Democratic House, Senate Leaders Release New Report Identifying Hundreds of Tobacco, E-Cigarette Ads and Images in Magazines with High Teen Readership

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined seven House and Senate Democrats in releasing a new report that found that hundreds of tobacco advertisements and images glorifying smoking and e-cigarettes appear in magazines with large teen readerships.

The report finds that “tobacco companies continue to glamorize smoking in advertisements in magazines with large youth readership” and that “magazines frequently contain alluring images of smokers in their editorial content.” 

The report identified hundreds of advertisements, photos, and other images – many featuring alluring images of celebrities – glamorizing smoking and e-cigarette use.  These advertisements and images appeared most frequently in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN the Magazine, US Weekly, and Glamour. 

Along with the report, the members of Congress wrote to the magazine publishers urging them to act to help reduce teen tobacco use.  The members wrote that “we hope you will reconsider your policies and voluntarily act to reduce cigarette, e-cigarette, and other tobacco product advertising and cut the number of editorial and news images of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products in your policies.  Eliminating them will help reduce teen smoking, which is a goal we should all share.”

Harkin, as Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, has been a leading voice in the push to reduce tobacco use and keep Americans healthy. In 1998, Harkin introduced the first comprehensive, bipartisan bill to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco, a precursor to the Harkin-cosponsored Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act ultimately enacted in 2009.

More recently Harkin led efforts to combat shameful child-targeted marketing practices by electronic cigarette manufacturers. Over the course of his career thanks to consistent focus on regulating the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products, Harkin’s work has helped contribute to the lowest smoking rates since the 1960s and reduce the percent of adult smokers from 35 to 18 percent.

Joining Harkin in sending the report and letters were Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman; Rep. John D. Dingell; Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.; Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, IV; Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin; and Senator Richard Blumenthal.

The full report, the text of the letters, and a gallery of the advertisements of images identified in the magazines can be found here.