The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: The Facts

Each year the tobacco industry spends many billions of dollars around the globe on advertising, promotion and sponsorship. [1] While the tobacco industry claims that its marketing is aimed merely at increasing market share of existing demand for tobacco products, rather than creating new demand, [2] evidence clearly shows that tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship increases tobacco consumption, particularly among young people, [3] and can favourably influence attitudes towards smoking and the tobacco industry, inhibiting tobacco control efforts. [4]

As traditional means of promotion (such as television commercials, billboards, and print advertisements in magazines and newspapers) have been increasingly restricted by laws and policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption, the range of industry marketing strategies has expanded. Contemporary tobacco industry marketing utilizes a wide range of means of promotion, including:

  • content delivered through modern commercial communication technologies such as the internet, satellite television, and mobile telecommunications;
  • sales and distribution arrangements, including display of products at points of retail sale, internet sales, vending machines, and distribution of free and discounted products;
  • packaging and product design features (such as logos, colours, pictures, shapes and materials) that promote products and cultivate and promote brand identity;
  • payments and other contributions to retailers and venue operators to induce them to promote and sell tobacco products;
  • contributions to sporting, arts and entertainment, charitable and political organizations and events, and to individual sportspeople, artists, entertainers and politicians;
  • association of tobacco products to non-tobacco products and services (such as clothing, jewellery, food and entertainment services) through brand stretching and brand sharing;
  • loyalty schemes, competitions and gifts; and
  • communication about “socially responsible” corporate activities (such as community and environmentally ‘friendly' activities).

Studies show that if bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship apply only to some marketing strategies, the tobacco industry simply shifts its focus towards means of promotion that continue to be permitted. [5] Similarly, if marketing opportunities are significantly restricted in some countries but not others, the tobacco industry adjusts its global marketing strategies accordingly: means of promotion now banned in many developed countries are being aggressively employed in developing markets, contributing significantly to the global increase in tobacco consumption. [6] In addition, many contemporary forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are cross-border in nature, meaning that they cannot be effectively banned by countries acting alone. The elimination of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship will therefore require a global effort to comprehensively ban all activities which promote tobacco products and their use.

Cited: 

[1] See J Mackay, M Eriksen and O Shafey, The Tobacco Atlas (2 nd ed, 2006) 60-63.

[2] See H Saffer ‘Tobacco advertising and promotion' in P Jha and F Chaloupka (eds), Tobacco Control in Developing Countries (2000) 215-236, 215.

[3] See M Wakefield, ‘Influence of tobacco marketing on smoking behaviour', in US National Cancer Institute, Monograph 19: … (July 2008) 211-291 ; H Saffer and F Chaloupka, ‘ The effect of tobacco advertising bans on tobacco consumption ' (2000) 19 Journal of Health Economics 1117-1137.

[4] WHO, WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER Package (2008) 36.

[5] See M Wakefield, ‘Influence of tobacco marketing on smoking behaviour', in US National Cancer Institute, Monograph 19: … (July 2008) 211-291 (not yet released ) ; H Saffer and F Chaloupka, ‘ The effect of tobacco advertising bans on tobacco consumption ' (2000) 19 Journal of Health Economics 1117-1137.

[6] World Health Organization, WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER Package (2008) 21.

Share This