11.6 Marketing of tobacco in the age of advertising bans

As traditional forms of marketing have been closed to the tobacco industry, companies have sought out novel ways of promoting their products. An advertising ban does not mean that tobacco companies will no longer seek to market their products; it means they will continue to market their products through avenues that have not been closed by the ban. Advertising bans may not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but result in shifting resources to other forms of marketing and promotion.1 When more of the remaining media are eliminated, the options for substitution are also eliminated. Several 'below-the-line' advertising techniques were indentified in Australia in the years following introduction of the TAP Act2–5:

  • event promotions, including dance parties, fashion shows and music festivals
  • marketing to retailers and other sectors of the tobacco trade
  • point-of-sale marketing
  • packaging design
  • brand stretching
  • internet-based marketing and the development of corporate websites
  • advertising in international magazines
  • text-message promotions and mobile phone applications
  • product placement in movies.

The material that follows documents examples of this kind of advertising and also subsequent legislation aiming to restrict it.

The continued innovation in marketing methods, particularly through electronic media, necessitates constant and systematic monitoring of all marketing activities of the tobacco industry. The Preventative Health Taskforce recommends tobacco companies report their annual marketing and promotional activities and budgets to the Australian Government, which would assist tobacco control stakeholders in identifying important gaps in legislation.5

Relevant news and research

For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.( Last updated November 2023)


1. Saffer H and Chaloupka F. The effect of tobacco advertising bans on tobacco consumption. Journal of Health Economics 2000;19(6):1117–37. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11186847

2. Carter SM. Going below the line: creating transportable brands for Australia's dark market. Tobacco Control 2003;12(suppl. 3):iii87–iii94. Available from: http://tc.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/12/suppl_3/iii87

3. Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission cigarette report for 2006. Washington: US Government 2009, viewed 30 August 2010. Available from: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/08/090812cigarettereport.pdf

4. Advertising Standard Bureau. Search Complaints Database. Sydney: ASB, 2010. viewed August 2008; Available from: http://www.adstandards.com.au/pages/casestudy_search.asp

5. Preventative Health Taskforce. Australia: the healthiest country by 2020. National Preventative Health Strategy. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2009. Available from: http://www.preventativehealth.org.au/internet/preventativehealth/publishing.nsf/Content/national-preventative-health-strategy-1lp