Industry Watch: Marketing | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year to promote the use of their products in emerging markets. In 2008, leading tobacco company Philip Morris International alone spent $7 billion to market its brands, an amount equivalent to the GDP of Haiti in 2009. The tobacco industry’s goal is to maximize profits assisted by intensive advertising campaigns to:

  • Attract new users — with a focus on children, young people and women,
  • Maintain or increase use among current tobacco users,
  • Reduce quit attempts among current users and encourage former users to start again.

Comprehensive laws that include banning all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship are effective at reducing tobacco use. Partial advertising bans are less effective because the industry can exploit weak laws and loopholes to continue promoting their products. Article 13 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls for the adoption of comprehensive bans to prohibit the use of all marketing strategies by the tobacco industry.

Tobacco companies use a sophisticated blend of strategies to reach their target audiences including:

  • Advertising and promotion of current brands and new product "innovations"
  • Sponsorships of music, sporting and other events

Advertising and Promotion

The tobacco industry engages in comprehensive marketing strategies to create the impression that tobacco use is widespread, socially acceptable and glamorous. Their marketing campaigns include the use of direct and indirect marketing tactics. Direct advertising includes placing ads in broadcast, print, and outdoor venues. Indirect advertising are methods such as brand stretching, product placement, and point of sale - where tobacco companies concentrate much of their advertising though product displays and product sales promotions.

When comprehensive advertising bans are not in place to protect a population, advocates must make the public and policy makers aware of the clever tactics that the tobacco industry uses to attract users.


Tobacco companies sponsor events, organizations, and activities to promote the use of tobacco to their target customers/consumers. Sponsorships include parties, concerts, sports teams, and sporting events that deceptively associate tobacco with desirable places, situations or physical qualities. When sponsorship is not included in tobacco advertising bans, the industry uses sponsorships to advertise their products often without the requirement of accompanying health warnings.

When bans on tobacco sponsorship are not in place to protect consumers, advocates must work to inform the public and policy makers of the harmful impact these sponsorships have on consumers.