Banning Tobacco Advertising: A Necessary Step to Reduce Smoking

Banning tobacco advertising, sponsorship, discounts, promotions, product displays, price promotions, product placement, giveaways, sampling etc., is essential for reducing smoking prevalence & onset. Learn more.

Banning Tobacco Advertising: A Necessary Step to Reduce Smoking

It is well-documented that general advertising bans lead to a decrease in the number of people who start smoking and continue to smoke. Statistics also show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the demand for tobacco and can be considered one of the best options for tobacco control. The effectiveness of advertising bans in reducing tobacco consumption and “denormalizing” tobacco products are much more plausible reasons for the opposition of the tobacco industry. Research has demonstrated that advertising bans cause a drastic decline in knowledge of the tobacco industry's promotional activities.

Most importantly, regulating advertising and promotion can reduce both the prevalence and the onset of smoking. An analysis of tobacco consumption before and after the introduction of the ban on advertising in many countries has estimated that general advertising bans reduce the onset of smoking by an average of 6% and the prevalence of smoking by an average of 4%. A partial ban is likely to only reduce prevalence and onset by 2%. A total ban on TAPS (Tobacco Advertising and Promotion) would lead to a reduction in the initiation and continuation of tobacco consumption; therefore, such a political measure would have a major impact on the population level and, consequently, would reduce the demand for tobacco. This would require that tobacco control measures be implemented strictly in accordance with the FMCT (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) guidelines and that innovative measures be introduced beyond the FMCT in countries that have a political commitment to ending the smoking epidemic. The participation of the tobacco industry in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities is a more recent strategy in which tobacco companies try to present their image as socially responsible and ethical people.

However, a common argument in the industry is that tobacco is a legal product and, therefore, its advertising should be legal. Simple and standardized tobacco packages, as currently being implemented by the Australian Government, require the prevention of promotion through advertising on packages and improve the effectiveness of graphic health warnings on packages. The MoHfW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) has continued to demonstrate its commitment to tobacco control by introducing comprehensive tobacco control legislation and, with regard to some measures, India has been identified as a world leader. Tobacco packs are an important advertising medium for the industry and use attractive images, such as logos, brands, colors, etc. Celebrity support for tobacco products in movies is also causally associated with tobacco use among young people, with a dose-response relationship.

The tobacco industry has played a critical role in spreading the tobacco epidemic around the world through aggressive marketing campaigns. After conducting evaluations at 26 stores in Bamberg County and receiving point-of-sale tobacco control training from Counter Tools, the Tri-County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (TCCADA) was looking for next steps to help address the over-marketing of tobacco present in its community. The Public Health Law Center suggests strategies for restricting tobacco advertising in retail outlets such as:

  • Restricting or prohibiting discounts or promotions
  • Limiting or prohibiting product displays
  • Restricting or prohibiting price promotions
  • Restricting or prohibiting product placement
  • Restricting or prohibiting giveaways
  • Restricting or prohibiting sampling
The tobacco industry channels most of its marketing spending to points of sale, so restrictions on point-of-sale advertising are a fundamental strategy to subvert the industry's attempts to attract new smokers, current smokers, and those who have recently quit smoking. A study conducted with some 4,000 teenagers going to school in Delhi found that students who are highly exposed to tobacco use in Bollywood movies are more than twice as likely to be tobacco users compared to those who are least exposed. This is in line with findings from 2003 which used the same survey tool, and reflects gaps in tobacco advertising legislation. In conclusion, banning tobacco advertising, sponsorship, discounts, promotions, product displays, price promotions, product placement, giveaways, sampling, etc., is essential for reducing smoking prevalence and onset.

It is also necessary for preventing gaps in existing legislation related to tobacco advertising.

Clifton Dupriest
Clifton Dupriest

Award-winning coffee aficionado. Typical travel guru. Incurable coffee junkie. Proud music advocate. General pop culture guru.

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