"For several years, the emphasis in the tobacco industry has been on direct marketing, especially to young people who are highly price sensitive and who may find coupons, samples and promotions appealing," said lead author Samir Soneji from Dartmouth.

Soneji's team explored whether exposure to tobacco coupons and websites would increase the chances that a young person would start to smoke."We found that both direct mail (coupons) and exposure to tobacco websites were associated with increased chances of smoking initiation and current smoking," Soneji added.

Overall, 12 percent of 15-17-year olds and 26 percent of 18-23-year olds were exposed to either form of direct-to-consumer tobacco marketing.

According to the study, some of the internet marketing infiltrates social media which is widely consumed by teens and young adults.

Since younger consumers are more "price sensitive" to the high cost of tobacco products, a web ad offering a coupon could be perceived very favourably.

Teenagers and young adults, who live in a household with a smoker, may face increased exposure to direct marketing in the form of mailed ads and coupons, the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, emphasised.


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