Combating the Tobacco Industry’s Playbook for Emerging Products: A Message Guide

This message guide provides advocates with best practices, tips and tools, and effective messaging for communicating with stakeholders about the dangers of emerging products and the need for strong regulation on e-cigarettes, HTPs, and other products.


When we talked to tobacco control advocates around the world, we heard many of the same challenges. Tobacco companies are pushing their message hard, and it’s breaking through in the media and with policymakers. Advocates need a clear, defined message that pushes back against the aggressive marketing of these products and dismantles the tobacco industry’s false claims. The industry is waging a large-scale, coordinated campaign to promote emerging products, and the global tobacco control community must come together around a shared communications strategy to effectively fight back.

We also know advocates are getting hit with tough questions and repeated industry talking points, and need clear guidance on how to respond. This guide is designed to help advocates navigate those tough conversations, pivot away from the industry’s playbook, and steer the conversation back toward the real harms posed by these products.

How to Use This Guide

The guide is divided into three sections:

  1. Messaging Guidance: This section offers general guidance for communicating about these issues, including phrases to avoid, language to embrace, and tips for how to communicate effectively without reinforcing the industry narrative.
  2. Core Messaging: This section details the core message to use in proactive communications about emerging products, focused on emphasizing the threats these products pose, most particularly to young people.
  3. Opposition Messaging: This section provides messages designed to combat the industry’s “harm reduction” narrative, and can be used when advocates need to directly respond or combat the opposition message.


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