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OBJECTIVE—To assess the smoking behaviour of primary schoolchildren and their ability to recognise brand names and logos of widely advertised cigarettes, compared with other commercial products intended for children.
DESIGN—Cross-sectional survey in classroom settings using a questionnaire designed to measure attitudes towards smoking and the recognition of brand names and logos for 16 food, beverage, cigarette, and toothpaste products.
SUBJECTS—1093 children (54.6% boys, 44.4% girls) aged 7-13 years (mean = 10, SD = 1), from grades 2-5. The student sample was taken from three primary schools—one school in each of three residential districts representing high, middle, and low income populations.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Prevalence of ever-smoking, recognition of brand names and logos.
RESULTS—Prevalence of ever-smoking was 11.7% overall (13.9% among boys and 9.1% among girls; p<0.05). Children aged eight years or less had a higher prevalence of ever-smoking (19.6%) than older children (p<0.002). Ever-smoking prevalence did not differ significantly across the three school districts. Ever-smoking prevalence was higher among children with at least one parent who smoked (15.3%) than among those whose parents did not (4.8%) (p<0.001). Brand recognition rates ranged from 58.1% for Chee-tos (a food product) to 95.2% for Samsun (a Turkish cigarette brand). Recognition rates for cigarette brand names and logos were 95.2% and 80.8%, respectively, for Samsun; 84.0% and 90.5%, respectively, for Camel; and 92.1% and 69.5%, respectively, for Marlboro. The Camel logo and the Samsun and Marlboro brand names were the most highly recognised of all product logos and brand names tested.
CONCLUSIONS—The high recognition of cigarette brand names and logos is most likely the result of tobacco advertising and promotion. Our results indicate the need to implement comprehensive tobacco control measures in Turkey.
Keywords: advertising; brand recognition; children; Turkey