Tobacco Marketing – Are You a Target?

targetTobacco 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

Examples include:

  • 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.

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day! Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!


Big Tobacco in the LGBT Community

LGBT flagRecent data shows that 1 in 5 people smoke in the U.S. In the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community smoking rates are almost 70% higher than the general population, killing almost 30,000 LGBT persons every year. But yet, why is it that smoking is still a fad? A research marketing company named Winston Stuart Associates conducted a focus group study in Sacramento and San Francisco which documented why LGBT participants believed smoking prevalence to be high within their communities.  Here’s some of their findings:

  • There is more stress, and cigarettes are a great stress reliever.
  • LGBT people have been told “no” for a long time and smoking is a legal form of rebellion.
  • LGBT people go out at bars/clubs, and cigarettes fit in with the bar scene.

There is a lot to be said about the type of stressors we each go through day to day, but we never really experience what it would be like to outrightly be denied certain rights. Therefore,stressors would be much higher in a population that undergoes this type of scrutiny and discrimination. The warmth and welcome that a cigarette would have to someone that is seeking acceptance, would be a readily available release of the pressures one would experience.

The marketing that has been used by tobacco companies, have been very smart and decisive in the LGBT community. For example there is one ad from American Spirit cigarettes that reads: “Free. to speak. to choose. to marry. to participate. to be. to disagree. to inhale. to believe. to love.  to live. it’s all good.”  This type of messaging pulls on emotions of the LGBT community to market their deadly product.

Learn more about tobacco control efforts in the LGBT community through our partner, the LGBT Network for Health Equity.

Big Tobacco is an industry that builds consumer loyalty through lies and deception.  Learn more about tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship at

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day! Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!

Kicking Off Tobacco Free Parks Initiative!!

TF parks

As urbanites, all we get to enjoy, when it comes to nature, is a beautiful lawn and nearby tree, if we are lucky, a garden at our home or nearby neighbor’s. In order to really come out from our everyday routine, and have a good whiff of fresh air, there is the public park.  The park is a place, since we were children, that we visited to let out some steam, to jump, to play, to scream! Never do we think about the smoke or the litter, until there it is, among the little chubby fingers of our toddler that is about to give a taste to the cigarette butt found in the sandbox.

Cigarette litter in Mandan Park, Omaha, NE (September 2012)

Cigarette litter in Mandan Park, Omaha, NE (September 2012)

Do we think twice when someone is smoking at the park? Perhaps, but not if they are at a distance.  But, are they really at a distance? No, if you see them, most likely your kids can see them too and that sends a message.  That tells our youth that smoking really isn’t that big of a deal, and what’s more, like they get to play and have fun, so do the adults. The role modeling that is demonstrated in a setting where activity is mostly mimicked should be a concern for all of us.  Next time you go to a park, know the facts, such as:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure poses health risks for children and adults. The 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s report concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even when you are outdoors and think that the air is getting rid of the smoke, it still travels and takes time to dissipate, so you and everyone else nearby can still be exposed.

  • Cigarette litter is harmful, and the cigarette is the most littered item on the planet.  The American Lung Association states that there are 600 chemicals in cigarettes, 4,000  when lit, of those 50 are known to cause cancer.  As cigarettes can pose threats to our children they also endanger animals and marine life when they mistake filters for food.

  • Adult habits affect youth. Studies have found that parental actions, attitudes, and opinions about smoking have a great deal of influence on whether or not kids smoke.

The Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) is now beginning a new initiative to make all City of Omaha parks tobacco-free.  Parks are placed to be enjoyed and promote active fun lifestyles.  Families go to parks to enjoy the facilities and spend time together.  Let’s promote positive behaviors for our children.  Help change the norms in our community and support the tobacco-free parks initiative!  You won’t be alone.  In fact over 86% of Douglas County residents support a policy to limit smoking in outdoor areas and more than 90% support a policy to limit smoking in recreational areas.

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day!  Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!