INTRODUCTION: Concerns about secondhand smoke, increasing indoor smoking bans, and health concerns regarding cigarettes are contributing to the development of new smokeless tobacco (ST) products by the tobacco industry and the repositioning of traditional ST products. The objective of this research was to systematically document the changing advertising strategies and themes of the ST industry.
METHODS: Using descriptive content analysis, this study analyzed 17 nationally circulated magazines for ST advertisements (ads) from 1998-1999 and 2005-2006, recording both magazine and advertisement characteristics (e.g., themes, selling proposition, people portrayed, and setting/surroundings.) Ninety-five unique ads were found during the two time periods-occurring with total frequency of 290 ad placements in 816 issues. One hundred ninety-one ads were found in the 2005-2006 sample, while 99 were found in the 1998-1999 magazines.
RESULTS: Significant differences in ST ads were identified between time periods and magazine types. A greater percentage of ads were found in the latter time period, and the average number of ads per issue increased (0.24 in 1998-1999 and 0.49 in 2005-2006, p < .001). More recent magazines and general adult magazines contained a greater proportion of flavored products, "alternative to cigarette" messages, and indoor settings when compared with earlier magazines and men's magazines, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: While continuing to advertise in men's magazines with themes appealing to men and "traditional" ST users, the ST industry appears to be simultaneously changing its message placement and content in order to include readers of general adult magazines who may not currently use ST.