History of Tobacco Marketing

For years, Big Tobacco companies have promoted a richer, more glamorous life through smoking. They marketed tobacco in mass media using attractive women, kid-friendly characters and celebrity endorsements to heighten tobacco’s appeal. From the 1920s to 1950s, tobacco companies used A-list movie stars to endorse certain brands of cigarettes. Later, cultural icons like the Marlboro Man lured men with exaggerated fantasies of manliness and independence.

To counter growing concerns about smoking risks, they even hired doctors and dentists to endorse their products. Using slogans like “Just What the Doctor Ordered” and “More Doctors Smoke Camels,” Big Tobacco companies attempted to subdue public health concerns by showing that physicians were also smokers.

Annual Tobacco Industry Marketing Expenditures Nationwide: $8.2 billion
Estimated portion spent for marketing tobacco in Oklahoma each year: $120.6 million

The tobacco industry has also sought to portray itself as an embodiment of American culture. Promoting the values of freedom, independence and self-determination, the industry has positioned itself as a uniquely American phenomenon. Yet smoking remains the leading cause of death and preventable illness in the U.S.

Big Tobacco companies have garnered hundreds of billions of dollars in profits at the expense of diminished health, tobacco addiction and millions of lost lives. Today, public health and wellness campaigns are beginning to chip away at more than a century’s worth of deceptive and manipulative tobacco marketing tactics. By working at the local, state and national levels, citizens and public health workers can educate the public about the long-term effects of smoking and the dangers of tobacco and lessen the impact of this global health pandemic.

Learn more about Big Tobacco’s history of deception.

“Tobacco use is a social phenomenon largely propelled by mass media, led by tobacco industry professionals who constantly change strategies to reach their goals.”
–Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC News Medical Editor

Big Tobacco and Electronic Cigarettes

With more restrictive tobacco marketing laws, Big Tobacco companies are finding other ways to deceive the public and push their products. Today, each major tobacco company has its own e-cigarette brand on the market. And another trend — JUULing — is growing at an alarming rate, especially among youth. With Big Tobacco’s extensive distribution networks, millions of existing customer relationships and no restrictions on e-cigarette advertising, they’ve returned to their strategies of the past, spending heavily on marketing their e-cigarette products.

video game controller
Today, tobacco companies pay to have their cigarettes featured in popular video games.