Smokeless tobacco product use and promotions are on the rise in the United States. Several factors have contributed to the growth in the smokeless tobacco market including availability of flavors, attractive pricing and availability to use anywhere.1
Skoal, which is owned by US Smokeless Tobacco Co., is the third most popular smokeless tobacco product in the US with a market share of 19.8%. Skoal is available in several flavors apart from natural tobacco including mint, wintergreen, peach, vaniall, berry, apple, and cherry. Internal tobacco documents show that as early as 1968, Skoal representatives understood the appeal of flavors among adolescents. A meeting summary quotes a Skoal representative commenting on the addition of candy flavoring to skoal. “Cherry Skoal is for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I mean." "Starter" products are the first step on the so-called "graduation" process from beginner-strength to stronger smokeless products.”2
Skoal ads commonly appealed to sociability, masculinity, and individuality. The ads were marketed towards males. Even when the ads included women, the female models were there to attract men. Examples of such ads include the 12 pages of advertising that Skoal purchased in Playboy that had scantily dressed female models lying on cans of skoal.
A content analysis of Skoal ads found that many of the ads emphasized pleasure and were targeted to young boys. These ads featured young men relaxing by a campfire or taking thrill rides on ATVs – themes and images likely to appeal to teenage boys. The message of these ads were that in order to have fun you need to chew skoal.2 The Skoal ads appeared in recent issues of publications popular among young men and teen boys, including Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver and Maxim.
1. Delnevo, Cristine D., et al. "Examining market trends in the United States smokeless tobacco use: 2005–2011." Tobacco Control 23.2 (2014): 107-112.
Tobacco Free Kids.(1997) Tobacco-Free Kids Questions U.S. Tobacco Decision to Remove Skoal Name from Rock Concert Ads. Available at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press_releases/post/id_0105