There is no doubt that tobacco companies are keen to present smoking in a favorable light and to associate their products with positive feelings, images and experiences. The success of the Old Joe Camel campaign, launched in 1987, has reignited the debate about the role of advertising in influencing young people to use tobacco and specific brands. The results of the study presented here demonstrate the use of commercial space to advertise and promote tobacco products through signs, functional items and displays. Psychologists have identified mechanisms by which advertising makes tobacco use appear attractive to smokers and potential smokers.
The Committee trusts that state and federal legislation will help to prevent tobacco consumption by children and young people, and that such legislation will withstand any constitutional challenges from the affected media or the tobacco industry. However, between 1981 and 1992 (during which the tobacco industry more than doubled its advertising and promotion spending), smoking among high school seniors only decreased by 3% (to 17.2%), or 0.26 percentage points per year. It is important to note that the ads did not always align with local or federal tobacco control policies. Cigarettes were the most advertised product (40%), followed by electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS, 28%), cigars (27%) and smokeless tobacco (5%).
Direct mail can be a form of promotion that tobacco companies will apply more aggressively if restrictions are imposed on conventional advertising. The communication and tobacco industries have a legitimate interest in avoiding diverse and often incompatible, state-by-state regulation of advertising and promotional activities carried out in the national media. The vast amount of tobacco advertising contributes to the false impression that smoking is acceptable in a wide variety of contexts. While in 1970 advertisements accounted for 82%* of total spending on tobacco marketing, this figure dropped to 67% in 1980, 21% in 1990 and 17% in 1991. The analysis revealed gender-specific relationships with tobacco advertising campaigns aimed at women, which were launched in 1967. Tobacco advertisements often appeared directly next to other tobacco advertisements and other “vices”.
To reduce the impact of tobacco advertising, Congress should repeal federal law that opposes state regulation of the promotion and advertising of tobacco produced exclusively within state borders. Additionally, it is essential to increase public awareness about the dangers of smoking, as well as to strengthen existing regulations on advertising.