Tobacco Industry Advertising

and Marketing

In CT, the Tobacco Industry spends 98.4 million dollars each year to market their products. 

For every person who dies from a tobacco related illness, two youth take their place as smokers.


Most tobacco users began using before the age of 18.  If someone has not begun using tobacco by the age of 25, the likelihood that they will ever use tobacco is very low.

Impact on Youth Tobacco Use

There is a link between the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and teens’ tobacco use.

Studies reveal1:

kids looking at cigarette ads in store 
  • Youth are three (3) times as more sensitive to tobacco ads than adults
  • Youth are more likely to be influenced by ads than by peer pressure
  • 1/3 of underage experimentation is attributable to advertising
  • Even brief exposure to tobacco ads influences teen attitudes and perceptions about smoking as well as their intentions to smoke
  • Exposure to marketing more than doubles the odds that kids under 18 will use tobacco
   vintage ad for lucky strikes with runners 

The biggest impact tobacco advertising has is influencing non-susceptible youth to becoming susceptible to smoking.

The more tobacco advertising that a child sees, the more likely they are to use tobacco products.

The Tobacco Industry needs new tobacco users each year to take the place of those who either quit or die.  If they don’t, the Industry will go out of business.

Although the Tobacco Industry insists they do not intentionally target youth or research youth behavior, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled differently in her final opinion in the court case, United States v. Phillip Morris stating:

From the 1950s to the present, different defendants, at different times and using different methods, have intentionally marketed to young people under the age of twenty-one in order to recruit “replacement smokers” to ensure the economic future of the tobacco industry.”

Master Settlement Agreement1

In November 1998, forty-six states and six other U.S. jurisdictions entered into the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and resolved litigation brought by over forty states against the major U.S. cigarette manufacturers, including Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard. The companies agreed to pay the states billions of dollars in yearly installments and to change the way they advertise and market their products.   Since November 1998, about twenty-five other tobacco companies have signed onto the MSA and are also bound by its terms.      

 tobacco executives in court

Tobacco Executives testifying in

Congress that nicotine is not addictive.


The MSA advertising and marketing restrictions are in place to help reduce youth tobacco use.

MSA restrictions on advertising2

  • Bans direct or indirect marketing to youth
  • Bans cartoons and characters from ads
  • Bans billboards and outdoor advertising, except at stores where tobacco is sold
  • Bans payment for product placement in media
  • Bans providing free samples except in adult only facilities
  • Bans gifts to youth in return for proof of purchases
  • Limits tobacco-brand sponsorships at sporting and other events

The Companies voluntarily agreed to not advertise in magazines with 2 million youth readers or 15% youth readership.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

President Obama signing the Tobacco control act     
In June 2009, the President signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) (Public Law 111-31) into law. This Act grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco.  They oversee the manufacture, marketing and distribution of these tobacco products in order to protect public health and to reduce tobacco use by children and adolescents. 
The Center for Tobacco Products at FDA was created to oversee and enforce the Tobacco Control Act.

The rule contains provisions designed to limit youth access to tobacco products, as well as restrictions on marketing, to curb the appeal of these products to youth. Provisions of the new FDA regulations went into effect on June 22, 2010.

Tobacco Control Act Regulations on Marketing and Advertising

  • Prohibits tobacco-brand sponsorships at any sporting, musical or other social or cultural event or any team or entry in those events.
  • Bans providing gifts or other items in exchange for buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.
  • Requires that all audio advertisements use only words with no music or sound effects.
  • Prohibits the sale or distribution of items (such as hats and tee shirts) with cigarette and smokeless tobacco brands or logos.
  • Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco must be sold in a direct, face-to-face exchange.  Customers cannot pick up products and take them to a register to pay for them.
  • Bans the sale of flavored cigarettes such as chocolate, cherry, strawberry, clove.

For more information on the Tobacco Control Act,


Although these restrictions are in place, the Tobacco Industry continues to research strategies to recruit new tobacco users and promote their products in ways that are appealing to youth. 

For more information- Industry Targetting of Youth

1 Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Tobacco Company Marketing to Kids Fact sheet

2 Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement: Enforcement of Marketing Restrictions (2004)

3 Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement: Enforcement of Marketing Restrictions (2004)