Many people may claim to be smoking solely based on their desire, but the addictiveness of smoking and the harm it can cause to the health of people has urged authorities and governments all over the world to try and curb the popularity of smoking, mostly through placing severe restrictions on the promotion and advertising of cigarettes and generally of tobacco products. In turn, this has meant the marketing agencies and experts have been forced to devise innovative and creative ways to promote and market cigarettes and tobacco in an attempt to overcome the relevant restrictions.
The fact that smoking was very appealing to the general public and that smoking advertising was indeed very effective has lead governments over the years to adopt a hard stance against tobacco and cigarette advertising. Authorities in different countries do not deny that they target smoking advertising in order to target smoking itself. Announcing its decision to place restrictions on the advertising of smoking products the Australian government in 2005 pointed out that the promotion restriction was viewed by them as “an integral part of comprehensive strategies designed to reduce the harm caused by tobacco”. Iceland was another country where such restrictions were imposed by the Heath Ministry in 2002, while it is interesting to point out that the advertising of tobacco products has been banned altogether well back in 1992 on Thailand, while Canada followed suit in 2001 and Ireland in 2002.
One method to restrict the promotion and advertising of cigarettes and tobacco products that was implemented by governments, was the banning of the words “light”, “mild” and “low” to describe the tar contained in a smoking product. These words were banned as it was thought that they were misleading and were making smokers believe that smoking such “milder” products was less detrimental to their health and those around them.
It is however interesting to observe that restrictions were not always effective. For example after the US authorities banned tobacco advertising and prohibited the sale of tobacco products in separate shelves in US stores, the response of the industry was to create self-service acrylic installations to promote and sell their products and strategically place them right by the cash register in stores, supermarkets, kiosks and petrol stations. Spurred by the ban to actually try out smoking, it turned out that people were actually buying more cigarettes instead of less, since placing the self-service sales points at the end of aisles or right by the cash register in reality fuelled more impulsive purchases.
Another intriguing piece of information is that, surprisingly enough, Thailand was one of the pioneer countries in the crusade against smoking, having introduced an anti-tobacco control programme as early as the year 1986. Ever since it has kept adopting a hard stance against smoking and its promotion, imposing increased tax rates through new legislation passed in 2006, while in 2008 through yet another law the selling of single cigarettes or cigarettes is small packs was banned, as was the sale of cigarettes near schools or religious buildings. Furthermore, the sale of flavoured cigarettes was also completely prohibited.