The Tobacco Industry Advertising Tactics

July 2, 2021

The tobacco industry’s influence is everywhere, yet most Californians have become so accustomed to the ways that tobacco infiltrates our daily lives and has become embedded in our culture that its presence goes unnoticed.

Tobacco is present in movies, sports, stores, gas stations, newspapers, magazines, bars and on the Internet. Think about how this affects those trying to quit, or the impressionable eyes of those too young to fully understand the long-term consequences of tobacco use.

Tobacco advertising has been deceiving the public for nearly a century and preying on youth – using cartoon characters and child actors to entice young viewers.

In 2005, they spent $843 million in California alone to promote their deadly products.1

The tobacco industry also used celebrities, iconic childhood characters and respected professionals in its advertising.

Many famous actors in the 1950s and ’60s were spokespeople for the tobacco industry, including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, as well as the most recognized icon of all time, “The Marlboro Man” (Wayne McLaren), and died of tobacco-related diseases.2 3

To view a collection of over 10,000 historic tobacco ads from Stanford University, click here.

And while the tobacco industry now runs ads to tell us that they have changed their ways, they continue to lie to us. They have repeatedly made misleading health claims about cigarettes, including that “light” cigarettes are “safer,” however the Federal government recently banned them from using such descriptors because they were not less harmful.

They still use images of attractive young adults who look healthy, independent and adventurous – all of which appeal to youth.

They want you to think they’ve changed – but they haven’t.

References renameme

  1. California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. 2009. California Tobacco Control Update 2009: 20 Years of Tobacco Control in California. Sacramento, CA.
  2. Cummings, K.M. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. Tobacco Control 1994; 3: 300-301.
  3. Jindal, S. Smoking and the Screen Celebrities. Lung India. 2008 Jul-Sep; 25(3): 107–108.