Big Tobacco's Relentless and Deceptive Marketing

Each year, the tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars around the globe on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS).1

The industry constantly loses customers because many current smokers quit smoking or die from tobacco-related diseases, and tobacco companies must attract a new generation of tobacco users to survive. As a result, tobacco companies develop massive marketing campaigns to entice specific populations, such as women and children, to become long-term smokers.

Banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect young people from starting smoking as well as reducing tobacco consumption across the entire population.Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director, Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization

Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that tobacco companies have carefully studied the habits, tastes and desires of their potential customers and use that research to develop products and marketing campaigns aimed at them.2

Studies show that tobacco marketing successfully recruits new tobacco users,3 maintains or increases use among current users,4 reduces a tobacco user’s willingness to quit,5 and encourages former users to start using tobacco again.6

Fighting Back: Comprehensive Bans Work

Comprehensive TAPS bans are very effective at reducing tobacco use, especially among young people. Partial TAPS bans have little or no effect on smoking prevalence, and enable the industry to promote and sell its products to young people who have not yet started using tobacco.7

At least 38 countries have adopted comprehensive TAPS national legislation.8 As global progress on these bans has occurred, the tobacco industry has come to rely more on the tobacco product package and its display to promote products.

Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires Parties to the treaty to implement and enforce a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of FCTC ratification.9 Article 13 Guidelines recommend that a comprehensive TAPS ban should include a ban on display of tobacco products at points of sales as well as the adoption of plain packaging to eliminate the effects of advertising or promotion on packaging.10

1 WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017: Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies.
2 WHO. The Tobacco Industry Documents: What They Are, What They Tell Us, And How to Search Them, 2005.
3 Moodie C et al. Tobacco marketing awareness on youth smoking susceptibility and perceived prevalence before and after an advertising ban. Eur J Public Health 2008 Oct; 18(5): 484-90.
4 Upadhyaya HP et al. Reactivity to smoking cues in adolescent cigarette smokers. Addict Behav. 2004 Jul; 29 (5): 849-56.
5 Wakefield M et al. The effect of retail cigarette displays on impulse purchase. Addiction 2008 Feb;103(2):322-8.
6 Ferguson SG and Shiffman S. The relevance and treatment of cue-induced cravings in tobacco dependence. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009 Apr; 36(3): 235-43.
7 WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2013: Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
8 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Tobacco Control Laws Database.
9 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2003.
10 Guidelines for implementation of Article 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. In WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: guidelines for implementation Article 5.3; Article 8; Articles 9 and 10; Article 11; Article 12; Article 13; Article 14 – 2013 edition.

Last updated Sept. 13, 2017.