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Call To Action

Governments must decide how to regulate the marketing of new products such as e-cigarettes that could potentially reduce harm.

Percentage of youth (13–15 years old) who reported having an object with a cigarette or tobacco logo; 2012 or latest available data

Tobacco companies claim publicly that they only market their product to influence the behavior of current adult smokers, and not to attract young people or nonsmokers. However, research shows that tobacco marketing contributes substantially to the smoking behavior of young people. One-third of youth experimentation occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; and 78% of youth aged 13–15 report regular exposure to tobacco marketing worldwide.

Besides the direct marketing of tobacco products, smoking is infused throughout contemporary culture and adversely influences the behavior of adolescents. Half of all movies for children under 13 contain scenes of tobacco use, and images and messages normalize tobacco use in magazines, on the Internet, and at retail stores frequented by youth. Moreover, under the guise of corporate social responsibility programs—which may include offering scholarships or sponsoring schools—the industry preserves its access to the youth market.

In 2011, the largest cigarette companies in the USA spent USD8.37 billion on marketing, spending the most on discounts to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers. Tactics used to attract and retain smokers include point-of-sale advertisements, allowances paid to retailers for conspicuous product placement, and “buy one, get one free” promotions. Globally, the tobacco industry endorses sports teams and public arenas, sponsors concerts and public events, and advertises through broadcast and print media.

In recent years, there has been an explosion in e-cigarette marketing. In the USA, advertisements for “smoking materials and accessories,” including e-cigarettes, increased from USD2.7 million in 2010 to USD20.8 million in 2012. Using images of glamour, sex appeal, and high social status, e-cigarette advertisements are often reminiscent of the tactics used by the major cigarette manufacturers before these practices were banned.

Marketing Tactics Comparison

E-cigarette ads today mirror cigarette ads of the past

E-cigarette ads and marketing tactics mirror those used by the major cigarette manufacturers before these practices were banned.

Tobacco companies spend more than $900,000 AN HOUR

in the USA alone to market their products.

Discounts Dominate

Cigarette marketing expenditures by category, USA, 2011; USD, in millions

Largely due to the ban on direct and indirect ads and sponsorship in the USA, the tobacco industry spends most of its marketing dollars (85.6%) on price discounts and coupons.

Advertising and promotional expenditures for cigarettes increased from $8.0 billion in 2010 to $8.4 billion in 2011; however, the total number of cigarettes sold decreased by 8.1 billion units (2.9%).

“THE EVIDENCE IS SUFFICIENT to conclude that advertising and promotional activities by the tobacco companies cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.” – US Surgeon General’s Report, 2014

Japan has hosted each Volleyball World Cup since 1997. JTI* sponsored the 2012 Volleyball World Cup, placing its logo on national team uniforms, courtside digital billboards, and “gift packages” distributed to spectators.

*Japan Tobacco International

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is KEY TO BRAND DEVELOPMENT.” – Philip Morris Report, 1999

In 2013, Cancer Research UK (CR UK), the UK’s country’s largest health charity, produced shocking video clips of young schoolchildren examining various packets of cigarettes. Tellingly, a red pack reminded one boy of Ferrari (whose Formula One racing cars are sponsored by Marlboro); two boys likened a bright yellow pack to the sun, one adding, ‘it makes you almost happy just by looking at it.’ And a girl clearly loved a pink pack so much that she cuddled it, enthusing to her neighbour, ‘Pink, pink, pink!’



Countries in which more than 70% of youth (13-15 years old) noticed tobacco advertising on billboards during the last 30 days

*Subnational data

93.4% | Uruguay
89.3% | Indonesia
89.0% | Paraguay
85.6% | Bolivia*
83.8% | Papua New Guinea
83.4% | Honduras*
83.2% | Nicaragua*
82.4% | Lebanon
82.3% | Ecuador*
82.2% | Kenya
81.2% | Kuwait
81.0% | Guatemala
80.8% | Costa Rica
80.7% | Philippines

80.6% | Argentina
80.3% | Dominican Republic
79.1% | Nepal
78.9% | Chile*
78.8% | Bahrain
78.2% | Tuvalu
76.8% | Russian Federation
76.7% | Côte d’Ivoire
76.1% | Burkina Faso*
76.0% | Somalia*
75.8% | Colombia*
75.0% | Senegal
74.8% | Mexico
74.6% | Armenia

93.4% | Venezuela
89.3% | Bangladesh
89.0% | United Republic of Tanzania*
85.6% | Lithuania
83.8% | Gaza Strip*
83.4% | Marshall Islands
83.2% | West Bank*
82.4% | Vanuatu
82.3% | Morocco
82.2% | Solomon Islands
81.2% | Kyrgyzstan
81.0% | Greece
80.8% | Qatar

“When it comes to the marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens, it’s ‘Joe Camel’ all over again. It is troubling that manufacturers of e-cigarettes, some of whom also make traditional cigarettes, are attempting to establish a new generation of nicotine addicts through aggressive marketing that often uses cartoons and sponsorship of music festivals and sporting events.” -Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa

“When all the garbage is stripped away, successful cigarette advertising involves showing the kind of people most people would like to be, doing the things most people would like to do, and smoking up a storm. I don’t know any way of doing this that doesn’t tempt young people to smoke.” -Advertising executive who worked on the Marlboro account, Quoted in the 1994 Surgeon General’s Report. Consumer Reports, March, 1995

Global Cigarette Advertising

Cigarette advertising among adults in selected countries; 2010 or latest available data

Exposure to cigarette advertising varies greatly around the world.



Advertising was noticed in the last 30 days prior to the survey. Adults in Low-and Middle income countries noticed more ads on television and in newspapers and magazines than adults in high-income countries.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Global Adult Tobacco Survey (Tobacco Surveillance System Data). 2013 [cited 2014 Jul 3].

In spite of state tobacco settlements prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting youth, Camel Crush ads ran in several U.S. magazines with high youth readership in 2013, including Entertainment Weekly, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, People, Glamour, InStyle, US Weekly and Vogue.

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