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Tobacco marketing restrictions

Evidence Rating

Some Evidence

Health Factors

Decision Makers

Regulations that restrict tobacco marketing limit promotion, placement, flavoring, or pricing of tobacco products. Regulations can restrict point-of-sale (POS) advertising, signs, and displays (), require minimum package sizes (e.g., no less than 20 cigarettes), and written warnings for tobacco products (CTFK-FDA 2010). Regulations can also prohibit sales in health-oriented facilities such as pharmacies (PHLC-Tobacco in pharmacies), prohibit daytime advertising, limit the number, size, or location of ads posted by businesses (PHLC-Tobacco advertising), and prohibit print ads in child-oriented newspapers and magazines (CTFK-FDA 2010). The federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act regulates sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. State and local governments can further restrict promotions and pricing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco (CTFK-FDA 2010) and restrict sales and promotion of other tobacco products such as cigars, cigarillos, and pipe tobacco (), but may not restrict advertising content (CTFK-FDA 2010).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced tobacco use

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased quit rates

  • Reduced youth smoking

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that marketing restrictions reduce tobacco consumption, though effectiveness varies by approach (, ). Exposure to tobacco advertising is strongly associated with tobacco use (, AHA-Mozaffarian 2012, , , ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects of marketing restrictions and determine the characteristics of successful efforts.

Removing tobacco power wall advertising displays from checkout lines has been shown to decrease adolescents’ likelihood of smoking (). Plain packaging of tobacco products has been shown to be less appealing to youth and adults, and may also discourage smoking (Moodie 2012, ); including graphic health warnings along with plain packaging may further decrease tobacco experimentation (, ). A European study suggests that advertising bans may help some smokers quit (); comprehensive advertising bans appear more effective than partial bans (AHA-Mozaffarian 2012, , ). An assessment of New York City’s ban on all flavored tobacco products demonstrates reductions in use of flavored tobacco and decreases in youth tobacco experimentation ().

Tobacco marketing increases the likelihood that youth will experiment with tobacco products or become smokers (AHA-Mozaffarian 2012, , ). Marketing through point-of-sale (POS) promotions (, ), mass media, print, and in-store displays () have all been shown to increase tobacco experimentation. Electronic or e-cigarette advertisements increase the likelihood that youth will try e-cigarettes (). Exposure to smoking in movies also appears to lead youth to try smoking (US DHHS SG-Smoking 2014, Sargent 2009, Charlesworth 2005).

When drafting marketing regulations, experts suggest fully documenting the need for the law, the justification for enacting the law, and the law’s intent (PHLC-Tobacco advertising). In addition to advertising restrictions, researchers suggest enacting minimum price laws (Henriksen 2012), restricting samples, discounts, and flavoring for non-cigarette tobacco products (Freiberg 2012), and restricting access to menthol flavored cigarettes (Freiberg 2014).

Tobacco advertising appears more concentrated in primarily black (Lee 2015, Primack 2007) and low income (Lee 2015, , ) neighborhoods.

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Federal law prohibits tobacco advertising through television (US DHHS SG-Smoking 2014) and restricts magazine and billboard advertising, but does not prohibit advertisements in stores (CTFK-FDA 2010). Tobacco companies cannot sponsor sports or entertainment events or give away branded promotional items (CTFK-FDA 2010, US FDA-Tobacco control) and free tobacco product samples are banned except in adult-only facilities (CTFK-FDA 2010). Tobacco marketing on the internet, where it remains unregulated, is increasing (), especially through social media (CTFK-Internet 2011) and user-generated videos ().

Municipalities also implement regulations. Boston, for example, passed a city-wide cigar packaging and pricing regulation in 2011, requiring retail establishments to sell cigars in an original package of at least four cigars unless it meets specified pricing requirements (, ). New York City banned the sale of any flavored tobacco product, except menthol, which is allowed by federal law, in 2009 ().

Implementation Resources

PHLC-Tobacco marketing - Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Advertising and marketing. Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC).

US FDA-Tobacco products - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Tobacco products: compliance, enforcement, & training. State, local, tribal, and territorial governments.

ChangeLab-Tobacco marketing - ChangeLab Solutions. Regulating tobacco marketing.

CPHSS TCLC-Brossart 2014 - Brossart L, Moreland-Russell S, Walsh H, et al. Policy strategies: A tobacco control guide. St. Louis: Center for Public Health Systems Science (CPHSS), George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC); 2014.

PHLC-Retail environment and licensure - Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Retail environment and licensure. Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC).

US FDA-Tobacco control - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Tobacco Control Act. 2009.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

AHA-Mozaffarian 2012 - Mozaffarian D, Afshin A, Benowitz NL, et al. Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA). Circulation. 2012;126(12):1514–63.

Freiberg 2012 - Freiberg M. Options for state and local governments to regulate non-cigarette tobacco products. Annals of Health Law. 2012;21(2):407–45.

Quentin 2007* - Quentin W, Neubauer S, Leidl R, König HH. Advertising bans as a means of tobacco control policy: A systematic literature review of time-series analyses. International Journal of Public Health. 2007;52(5):295–307.

Goel 2006* - Goel RK, Nelson MA. The effectiveness of anti-smoking legislation: A review. Journal of Economic Surveys. 2006;20(3):325–55.

Schaap 2008* - Schaap M, Kunst A, Leinsalu M, et al. Effect of nationwide tobacco control policies on smoking cessation in high and low educated groups in 18 European countries. Tobacco Control. 2008;17(4):248–55.

Cochrane-Lovato 2011* - Lovato C, Watts A, Stead LF. Impact of tobacco advertising and promotion on increasing adolescent smoking behaviours. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(10):CD003439.

Capella 2011* - Capella ML, Webster C, Kinard BR. A review of the effect of cigarette advertising. International Journal of Research in Marketing. 2011;28(3):269–79.

Paynter 2009* - Paynter J, Edwards R. The impact of tobacco promotion at the point of sale: A systematic review. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2009;11(1):25–35.

Sargent 2009 - Sargent J, Gibson J, Heatherton T. Comparing the effects of entertainment media and tobacco marketing on youth smoking. Tobacco Control. 2009;18(1):47–53.

Charlesworth 2005 - Charlesworth A, Glantz SA. Smoking in the movies increases adolescent smoking: A review. Pediatrics. 2005;116(6):1516–28.

Primack 2007 - Primack BA, Bost JE, Land SR, Fine MJ. Volume of tobacco advertising in African American markets: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Reports. 2007;122(5):607–15.

Widome 2013* - Widome R, Brock B, Noble P, Forster JL. The relationship of neighborhood demographic characteristics to point-of-sale tobacco advertising and marketing. Ethnicity & Health. 2013;18(2):136–51.

Moodie 2012 - Moodie C, Stead M, Bauld L, et al. Plain tobacco packaging: A systematic review. London, UK: Public Health Research Consortium; 2012.

Henriksen 2012 - Henriksen L. Comprehensive tobacco marketing restrictions: Promotion, packaging, price and place. Tobacco Control. 2012;21(2):147–53.

PHLC-Tobacco advertising - Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (TCLC). Restricting tobacco advertising. Saint Paul: Public Health Law Center (PHLC).

US DHHS SG-Smoking 2014 - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS). The health consequences of smoking- 50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General, executive summary. 2014.

Hammond 2013* - Hammond D, Daniel S, White CM. The effect of cigarette branding and plain packaging on female youth in the United Kingdom. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2013;52(2):151-157.

Germain 2010* - Germain D, Wakefield MA, Durkin SJ. Adolescents’ perceptions of cigarette brand image: Does plain packaging make a difference? Journal of Adolescent Health. 2010;46(4):385-392.

Thrasher 2011* - Thrasher JF, Rousu MC, Hammond D, Navarro A, Corrigan JR. Estimating the impact of pictorial health warnings and “plain” cigarette packaging: Evidence from experimental auctions among adult smokers in the United States. Health Policy. 2011;102(1):41-48.

Lee 2015 - Lee JGL, Henriksen L, Rose SW, Moreland-Russell S, Ribisl KM. A systematic review of neighborhood disparities in point-of-sale tobacco marketing. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(9):e8-e18.

Frick 2012* - Frick RG, Klein EG, Ferketich AK, Wewers ME. Tobacco advertising and sales practices in licensed retail outlets after the Food and Drug Administration regulations. Journal of Community Health. 2012;37(5):963-967.

Villanti 2016* - Villanti AC, Rath JM, Williams VF, et al. Impact of exposure to electronic cigarette advertising on susceptibility and trial of electronic cigarettes and cigarettes in US young adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016;18(5):1331-1339.

Freiberg 2014 - Freiberg M. The minty taste of death: State and local options to regulate menthol in tobacco products. Catholic University Law Review. 2014;64:949-974.

Shadel 2016* - Shadel WG, Martino SC, Setodji CM, et al. Hiding the tobacco power wall reduces cigarette smoking risk in adolescents: Using an experimental convenience store to assess tobacco regulatory options at retail point-of-sale. Tobacco Control. 2016;25(6):679-684.

Robertson 2015* - Robertson L, McGee R, Marsh L, Hoek J. A systematic review on the impact of point-of-sale tobacco promotion on smoking. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2015;17(1):2-17.

Farley 2017* - Farley SM, Johns M. New York City flavoured tobacco product sales ban evaluation. Tobacco Control. 2017;26(1):78-84.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CTFK-FDA 2010 - Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK). The impact of the new FDA tobacco law on state tobacco control efforts. Washington, DC: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK); 2010.

CTFK-Internet 2011 - Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK). Tobacco product marketing on the internet. Washington, DC: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK); 2011.

Forsyth 2013* - Forsyth SR, Kennedy C, Malone RE. The effect of the internet on teen and young adult tobacco use: A literature review. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 2013;27(5):367–76.

Ibrahim 2010* - Ibrahim JK. The tobacco tug-of-war: Advertising and counteradvertising tobacco products to youth. Pediatric Allergy Immunology, and Pulmonology. 2010;23(2):105–11.

US DHHS SG-Smoking 2014 - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS). The health consequences of smoking- 50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General, executive summary. 2014.

Li 2016* - Li W, Gouveia T, Sbarra C, et al. Has Boston’s 2011 cigar packaging and pricing regulation reduced availability of single-flavoured cigars popular with youth? Tobacco Control. 2016;0:1-6.

Sbarra 2017* - Sbarra C, Reid M, Harding N, Li W. Promising strategies to remove inexpensive sweet tobacco products from retail stores. Public Health Reports. 2017;132(1):106-109.

US FDA-Tobacco control - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Tobacco Control Act. 2009.

Farley 2017* - Farley SM, Johns M. New York City flavoured tobacco product sales ban evaluation. Tobacco Control. 2017;26(1):78-84.

Date Last Updated

Jan 30, 2017