Vital Strategies’ effective and innovative campaigns address the topics that shape global health.


Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship


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Case Study

The effect of advertising on tobacco consumption

Tobacco companies invest massive amounts of money globally on advertising, promotion and sponsorship campaigns that often target young people and women. While the companies claim these campaigns are meant to persuade existing smokers to switch brands, the evidence shows they associate smoking with attractive imagery like independence, glamour and masculinity. This discourages quitters, brings in new smokers, and undermines marketing restrictions.


Comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship have been shown to reduce tobacco consumption by up to 16% in some countries. However, partial ad bans are ineffective because tobacco companies find ways to circumvent them, like switching to unregulated advertising platforms. Only 10% of the world’s population currently lives in countries with complete bans on all direct and indirect tobacco marketing tactics.


The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires countries to implement comprehensive bans covering cross-border tobacco advertising as well. Some countries like India, Iran and Lebanon have made strides with strong legislation, but the tobacco industry uses “corporate social responsibility” campaigns and packaging as advertising loopholes. Plain packaging laws like Australia’s are helping close those remaining gaps.


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Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship