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New Study Reveals How Tobacco Companies Systematically Advertise Cigarettes to Kids Near Schools and Playgrounds around the World

Statement of Yolonda Richardson, Executive Vice President of Global Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 01, 2022

A new study published today in Tobacco Control details how the world’s largest multinational tobacco companies are systematically advertising cigarettes to kids near playgrounds and schools in more than 40 countries. The study is the most expansive analysis to date of point of sale cigarette advertising in low- and middle-income countries and was authored by experts from the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

The new analysis includes data collected from 2015 to 2021 at points of sale within a short walking distance of schools and playgrounds in 42 mostly low- and middle-income countries. The analysis found nearly identical marketing tactics across the countries surveyed, suggesting that the tactics are part of a concerted effort by multinational companies to expose youth to their cigarette brands and products around the world. 

Cigarette brands from British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International were found advertised near schools or playgrounds in nearly all of the countries surveyed. Both companies have emphatically claimed they do not market cigarettes to children – and have gone so far as to claim they want people to stop smoking cigarettes. Yet the overwhelming evidence from dozens of countries around the world suggests British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International target the world’s most vulnerable populations to continue driving their cigarette business.

In addition to the advertising near schools and playgrounds, other common tactics identified in the analysis include displays of cigarettes near sweets and snacks, displays of cigarettes at a child’s eye level and the sale of flavored and single-stick cigarettes. Tobacco companies work with and incentivize cigarette retailers to control the availability, placement, pricing and promotion of their products.

In 2021, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International sold more than 1.3 trillion cigarettes combined. Cigarette sales have increased in many of the low-and middle-income countries identified in the analysis 

Tobacco companies have known for decades that cigarette advertising at point of sale is associated with youth smoking initiation and leads many to become lifelong smokers. The evidence is clear that tobacco companies push their deadly products at points of sale frequented by kids because they know this strategy works to attract youth and their business depends on addicting new consumers. 

The findings of this analysis underscore the urgent need for more countries to implement proven tobacco control solutions including comprehensive prohibitions on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.  Without urgent and comprehensive action to ban cigarette advertising, the world’s largest tobacco companies will continue to capitalize on weak regulations to market cigarettes to children and youth. 

For additional information on how tobacco companies target kids, please visit: