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2004 U.S. Point of Sale Nicotine Marketing

Almost 90% of adult smokers started as children or teens. Smoking nicotine is so captivating that 71.7% of teen smokers and 90% of adult smokers are chemically addicted under DSM mental disorder diagnostic standards.

Here in the U.S., the nicotine industry is heavily engaged in building a massive facade of trust and responsibility behind which it's pretty much business as usual. For example, Philip Morris commercials expressly assure young minds that any smoker who does get hooked can simply visit its website and find effective help in quitting.

What Philip Morris does not tell them is just how extremely addictive smoking nicotine actually is, how only a couple of cigarettes may be all that's needed to permanently hook them, and how utterly horrible their odds of quitting are when Philip Morris' advice on quitting is actually followed.

When news that the six-month quit smoking rate for quitters using over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products is just 7% (March 2003) is coupled with news of massive and widespread NRT study blinding failures (June 2004), it cannot help but leave objective scientists wondering whether the research industry itself became addicted to nicotine.

But behind the facade, in neighborhoods around the globe, I doubt you'll find a Canada's cigarette pack addiction warning label single sign warning curious adolescent never-smokers that smoking nicotine is highly addictive. Instead, what you'll likely see is youth being urged to steal unearned dopamine by allowing Salem to stir their senses or to feel a nicotine induced adrenaline rush by riding Marlboro's bucking bronco. You will also not find any addiction warning label on any cigarette pack sold in America, as is required in Canada. Sadly, it's almost as if the nicotine delivery industry is waiting on government to compel truth in advertising.

Instead, each time a child walks near or into what they see as the candy store closest to home, their mind is endlessly bombarded with the message that life without tobacco isn't living. It will take bold leadership but such shotgun community marketing can and must end.

In 2003, 132,424 U.S. convenience stores generated $8.8 billion form the sale of nicotine products. According to a 2004 industry report of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), cigarettes account for 34.5% of all in-store sales (compare beer at 10.9%), generating an average income of $304,250 per store. Other non-cigarette tobacco products generate an additional $24,545 per store.

In boasting that its total market share of cigarette sales actually grew from 60% in 2002 to 62% in 2003, the report states that "while Internet and mail-order merchants continue to grow sales, convenience stores were able to hold their sales volume by capturing a greater share of sales from brick-and-mortar retailers." What tactics allow convenience stores to "capture" new smokers in sufficient numbers that they are able to build market share when they also must find replacements for 62% of the 440,000 Americans who annually smoke themselves to death?

Retail Nicotine Sales Grading Scale

It is my hope that a growing collection of WhyQuit "point of sale" dependency prevention pages will have their beginning here. I welcome all input but please understand that unlike other campaigns, this site will not engage in vilifying any person or industry for selling a legal product. What WhyQuit will do is seek to protect youth from the undue influence of reckless store marketing that has absolutely zero regard for the age or maturity of the minds it pierces and enters. What WhyQuit will do is seek to empower citizens across America to demand honest and responsible nicotine marketing that insulates underage minds while allowing young adults to make intelligent decisions.

The primary objective of WhyQuit's "point of sale" education program will be the protection of youth and young adults by: (1) expanding appreciation of the tremendous influence the convenience store industry has in breeding a community climate fertile for chemical enslavement of young minds; (2) exposing the inaccuracy of nicotine marketing that would likely not pass muster under any state's unfair and deceptive trade practices act; (3) teaching how the industry uses its muscle to fight legislation that would afford meaningful protection to our young; and (4) to foster community based activism that isn't afraid to employ the first amendment in order to promote responsible sales practices while educating youth.

A secondary objective will be to motivate the convenience store industry to act responsibly towards the millions of Americans that it helped chemically enslave. It has a moral and equitable obligation to provide effective avenues of escape to those customers wanting to end mandatory nicotine feedings.

Below are nicotine product marketing photographs taken during the first week of October 2004 in the Carolinas along I-26 from Charleston to Ashville, and on the campus of Western Carolina University. All images and photos may be used by any educator or activist for any non-commercial nicotine dependency prevention or cessation purpose. E-mail john@whyquit.com if you need a higher resolution image or would like to help grow this collection by submitting and sharing marketing images from your area. You can also mail photos to me, John R. Polito, at 106 Aldrich Place, Goose Creek, SC 29445. If you have any questions I can be reached at (843) 797-3234.

WARNING: Smoking nicotine is extremely addictive and once hooked there is a substantial likelihood that you will smoke yourself to death.


Click upon Bryan's picture to read his story


Click on each 2004 image to enlarge

Misty & Kool A Western Carolina University student smoker listening to free music beside the bell tower during an October 4, 2004 voter registration rally. Winston - additive free, naturally smoothTwo Western Carolina University student's preparing to smoke nicotine before class on October 4, 2004. Austin - everyday low price $15.99 a carton A convenience store employee assists in photographing a Salem stir your senses sign on October 10,2004 in Mount Pleasant, SC A Western Carolina University student smoker listening to free music beside the bell tower during an October 4, 2004 voter registration rally. The clerk at this store actually helped me set up these five new Camel flavors.  She asserted that they are the hottest new tobacco product in the store. The bold new menthol Marlboro Marlboro $2.79  Buy 2 get 1 free. A Western Carolina University Copenhagen dipper loading up on a balcony overlooking the bell tower lawn during a fre voter registration concert on October 4, 2004.  Surprisingly, he said it took less than a minute to feel a rush of nicotine  arrive in his brain. New Apple flavored Skoal Cash in on Newport's pleasures.  Win $1,000,000 Camel with Salem's stir the senses. A Western Carolina University student smoker stops for a photo on October 4, 2004.  He explained that the holder allows him to keep smoke further from his nose and eyes while typing with both hands.Camel's come on in the party's smokin. Camel - come on in we're always open.  Tis ture, nicotine dependency is as real and permanent as alcoholism. A Western Carolina University student government smoker reflects on her last quit attempt and how it turned sour as she registers students to vote at a rally on October 4, 2004. Be sure and click on the little enlargement control in the lower right corner. A Western Carolina University student uses nicotine to steal dopamine during a free voter registration concert an October 4, 2004. Camel Turkish blends - buy 1 get 1 free A store display where Winston is top shelf. Camel.  Thank you for shopping here.  Pleasure to burn.  What percentage of 90% of adult smokers hooked on nicotine think it's a pleasure living in bondage?  If only a very small percentage, wouldn't an honest ad read I burned my neurochemicals until the pleasure of being the real me entirely disappeared. Another store display in which Marlboro is top shelf. Camel and Salem hanging ad.  If thousands of these ads are hanging over the candy isles in convenience stores across America do you think their location is by chance?  Where is it hanging in your neighborhood store?  Also look at the angle of many ads.  Shouldn't they be aimed at a human between 5 and 6 feet tall? The messages on large signs such as those shown here, in and near residential neighborhoods, are impossible for our youngest children to avoid seeing over and over again and again. A Western Carolina University student with cigarette in one hand and pack in the other on October 4, 2004. Camel overhead ad - buy 1 get 1 free. Camel - thank you for shopping here.  Come on in ... the party's smokin. Bailey's $1.89 a pack - move to the taste you deserve?  Taste?  Then why do addicts inhale deeply instead of swallow? Marlboro - special price, $22.99 a carton A  Western Carolina University student smoking nicotine on October 4, 2004 Behind the 35 mph sign are homes.  Imagine being a child who daily must endure signs conditioning you to believe that you are missing out on pleasure. A  Western Carolina University student on October 4, 2004 as she reflects on her last failed quit attempt. Salem - stir the senses Newport pleasure! Fire it up!  Pleasure?  The Center for Disease Control takes an annual smoker survey and consistently finds that 70 to 71% of nicotine smokers want to quit.  If true, wouldn't an honest ad read, Newport hate - stop firing up! Camel - come on in we're always open.  Camel cash, auctions, games and more?  Who is R.J. Reynolds trying to appeal to with its games? What message does Marlboro's bucking bronco send - excitement, an adrenaline rush, danger, toughness, or adventure in the wild wild west?  If Philip Morris were truly sincere in its responsible marketing campaign then why does it continue to refuse to retire the marlboro man when it knows the impact of its message on young minds? A  Western Carolina University student smoking nicotine while listening to a band during an October 4, 2004 student voter registration drive. Another Marlboro display.  The cowboy riding the bucking bronco has high visible placement at most stores.  What message is Philip Morris sending children - smoking is dangerous but trust us and use our nicotine to steal your next adrenaline rush? Camel - Pleasure to burn,  Marlboro - buy a carton Two  Western Carolina University students passing a cigarette during an October 4, 2004 voter registration rally offering free pizza and music. Camel Turkish blends, a more mellow camel.   Is the message that mellow sexy people smoke Camel true, or is that simply the target?    Camel exotic blends - find your flavor.  Question, if the brains of 90% of all adult smokers are chemically addicted under DSM III dependency standards, and there are zero taste buds inside the human lung, then who are these ads directed toward? Marlboro's buy one or two and get one free campaign. What are the odds of an eighteen year-old, who smokes 5 to 10 a day, sharing or giving the free pack with a friend?  Free nicotine is important in addicting new smokers. Salem invites store patrons to stir their sense.  What it doesn't tell them is that it may only take a few times doing so before the stirring becomes mandatory. A  Western Carolina University student smoking on October 4, 2004. Salem - a rich, intense, smooth, spirited, and swift journey to a lifetime of permanent chemical dependency.


WARNING: Smoking nicotine is extremely addictive. It may only take smoking a cigarette or two before your brain begins wanting and begging for more. Once hooked, there is a substantial likelihood that you'll remain a nicotine addict for the rest of your life.


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Created October 11, 2004 and updated June 7, 2015 by John R. Polito