Tobacco companies market their deadly products across the globe. Their tactics focus on vulnerable populations including those who do not have access to the information or regulations/policies to protect them from this targeted marketing.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship should be banned. All forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship should be banned. Advertising bans significantly reduce the numbers of people starting and continuing to smoke. Banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco use.
The tobacco industry is constantly trying new promotional tactics using nontraditional media to exploit advertising and promotion bans
- handing out gifts and selling branded products such as clothing, in particular targeting young people
- “stealth marketing” such as engaging trendsetters to influence people in places such as cafes and nightclubs
- using online and new media, such as encouraging consumer interaction to design a new pack for a cigarette brand
- placement of tobacco products and brands in films and television programmes, including reality TV and soap operas
- corporate social responsibility activities such as donating to charity.
Tobacco industry advertising and sponsorship targets young people. About one third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Worldwide, 78% of young people aged 13-15 years old report regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. In the United States of America, smoking appears in 66% of movies rated PG-13, and adolescents are the most frequent moviegoers. Additionally, young people aged 13-15 years are up to five times more likely than adults to be offered free cigarettes by a representative of a tobacco company.
A comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship is required under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). A comprehensive ban reduces tobacco consumption regardless of a country’s income level. WHO’s report on the global tobacco epidemic 2011 shows that only 19 countries (representing just 6% of the world’s population) have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Charities and community projects should never accept tobacco industry support. Tobacco companies use corporate social responsibility activities to promote themselves as good corporate citizens, normalizing tobacco use and creating goodwill in the community. Consumers should be alert to tactics used by tobacco companies to exploit advertising and promotion bans.
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