The evolution of cigarette advertising is an interesting topic, not least because in recent years cigarette companies are being relentlessly plagued by restrictions and prohibitions in this regard by national and international authorities joining in the crusade against tobacco globally. This has meant that the marketing and advertising efforts of tobacco and cigarette manufacturers become very challenging and difficult and they need to constantly be searching and employing innovative and imaginative ways to navigate around the many restrictions and find methods to create legal yet memorable cigarette advertisements.
Indeed back in the early days of smoking promotions, when bans were not in place, cigarette companies enjoyed mass sales thanks to memorable slogans, jingles and logos, which made great impressions in the minds of people and many are even remembered today, having a lasting impact.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission in the late 1960s began a discussion about how the issue of smoking and the health concerns surround it could not simply remain a topic dealt with through paid ads. It therefore forced TV stations to start broadcasting anti-smoking campaigns for free, as part of their corporate responsibility towards the wider community.
This move was soon followed by a complete ban on all cigarette/tobacco advertising both on TV and radio stations, that came into effect in early 1971. Advertisements promoting smokeless varieties of tobacco products were allowed to be broadcasted until the year 1986.
Having being pushed out of the tv and radio, cigarette advertising found refuge in printed media such as magazines and on billboards. However, both the advertisements of tobacco products as well as the packaging of them had to include and feature a warning by the Surgeon General regarding the detrimental effects of smoking on health.
Additional restrictions in cigarette advertising include the prohibition of their inclusion in any printed material intended for an audience which is under 21 years old, such as for example comics and their banning from locations frequented by youngsters, such as universities, colleges and schools. Obviously, the handing out of cigarette samples and other promotional material during campaigns is not allowed to anyone under the age of 21.
Moreover, the actual content of cigarette ads is closely scrutinized and regulated and as a result, such ads cannot represent cigarette smoking as a way to be cooler, being more popular with the opposite sex or gaining a higher social status. Moreover the actors or models starring in cigarettes ad campaigns have to be at least 25 years old and ads cannot present any of them as having a career in any athletic field.
At a usually pricy fee, cigarette manufacturers are allowed to place their ads in theaters, videos, TV and games which are adult-only facilities and where no minors can be admitted or in videos, which are intended not for the wider public but for limited distribution only. Moreover, cigarette and tobacco ads could be placed in a retail establishment as long as they are not displayed on the back or front of any windows.
If you are in any way involved in cigarette advertising or if you are simply interested in the matter, a great source of up to date and reliable information is the FCC website (U.S. Federal Communications Commission) which contains all the rules and guidelines which are currently in place in the industry, and it should be consulted in order to obtain a clear and accurate picture about exactly what is allowed and what is not when it comes to cigarette advertising.