“Does tobacco advertising actually lead to increased tobacco consumption?” This was just one of the questions Johanna Birckmayer addressed during her “Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship” presentation on Friday.
While all other lectures on Friday focused on counter-advertising, social marketing & strategic communication for tobacco control, Birckmayer focused on how the Industry uses advertising and marketing methods to normalize and glamorize tobacco use, mislead the public, target specific groups, and weaken tobacco control campaigns. She informed participants that there is scientific evidence to show that tobacco advertising does in fact lead to increased consumption by enticing young people to smoke, encouraging smokers to smoke more and decreasing smokers’ motivation to quit.
Birckmayer exposed industry tactics such as brand-stretching to clothing, objects, stores, and even services; targeting youth; targeting women by portraying cigarettes as “slim, sexy, & liberating;” and targeting the poor by associating affluence with cigarettes. Birckmayer stressed that countries implement comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship because the Industry is “very good at changing their tactics” to circumvent partial bans that are put in place. The session ended with participants sharing experiences from their own countries of tobacco advertising tactics including product placement in movies, clothing lines manufactured by tobacco companies and industry sponsored events held exclusively for “smokers and their friends.”
-Maggie Hawthorne, Institute for Global Tobacco Control