Tobacco Advertising: Will you do it? Or will you say ‘No’?


An interesting post has been put up by Richard Abbott on the Campaign Middle East blog – we’re having The great tobacco debate there. I have provided a few reasons why publications should and do refuse to publish ads that encourage the fatal habit of smoking. Some of the most reputed publications in the world like The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Business Week refuse tobacco advertising.

I am posting a few highlights here, in continuation of my blog posts on social responsibility. You are welcome to comment and share your insights.

What happens when we make and publish tobacco, cigarette and smoking ads?

Smoking kills more people than car accidents, alcohol, homicides, illegal drugs and suicides combined. The following is what we are doing when we create, design or publish ads promoting tobacco and smoking:

  • Encouraging children or young adults to experiment with tobacco and thereby slip into regular use
  • Encouraging smokers to increase consumption
  • Reducing smokers’ motivation to quit
  • Encouraging former smokers to resume
  • Discouraging full and open discussion of the hazards of smoking as a result of media dependence on advertising revenues
  • Muting opposition to controls on tobacco as a result of the dependence of organisations receiving sponsorship from tobacco companies
  • Creating through the ubiquity of advertising, sponsorship, etc. an environment in which tobacco use is seen as familiar and acceptable and the warnings about its health are undermined.

[Based on the Surgeon Genera’s report ‘Reducing the health consequences of smoking: 25 years of progress’ USDHHS, 1989 as published on ASH’s website]

Everyday, around 4,000 children try a cigarette and take their first step towards becoming nicotine addicts. They tend to start off with the most advertised brands.

Does controlling tobacco advertising help?

A study commissioned by the New Zealand government across 33 countries over 16 years from during 1970 to 1986 demonstrated that the higher the degree of governmental control on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, the larger the annual reduction of tobacco consumption.

Further on this point, UK Department of Health’s Chief Economic Adviser reported a drop in tobacco consumption of between 4% and 16% in countries that had implemented a tobacco advertising ban.

So, curbs on tobacco advertising do work and that is the reason why many countries have already put them in place and more are starting to do so. Perhaps UAE will follow suit too, knowing its passion for keeping up with the highest standards of living being followed across the world.

Useful Links:
1. CDC’s Tobacco Infomation & Prevention Source (TIPS): Home Page, Fact Sheets
2. GLOBALink’s Answers to Pro-tobacco Advertising Arguments
3. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH): Effects of Tobacco Advertising & Promotion
4. – Online Guide to Quitting Smoking and Useful Downloads
5. Office of the Surgeon General: Homepage, Toxic Substances in Smoke, Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
6.’s Tobacco Timeline: 21st Century Tobacco History 


You may also like:



Leave a comment


  1. Another Great blog post, I will be sure to bookmark this in my StumbleUpon account. Have a awesome day.

  2. It is only advertising brainwashing that keeps us in the nicotine trap

  3. That’s a good decision, Molly. Stay safe!


  4. molly

     /  March 4, 2008

    i think smoking is soooooooo totally gay so r drugs and alcohol! i am never going to do any of them

  5. Fazila Sciberras

     /  June 29, 2007

    Dear Farrukh,

    I agree totally as there are some parts in this case which will cause a disruption under international law.

    We all have a freedom of speech. Sometimes however we have to make sure that what we say is compliant.

    Take good care and kindest regards,

  6. Hi Dimo,
    You are among creatives for sure, my friend, and your comments are always welcome.
    However, it’s good to keep in mind that blogging is in the public domain and one needs to know the legalities of making broad sweeping statements in it.
    I have published all of your comments. The part that I have edited out makes an allegation that can be considered libel in the court of law. Most good publications have libel guidelines. I try to follow some too on this blog.
    You are most welcome to share your views, and maybe even make that point you want to make about fast food being more fatal than smoking. Just take good care of of avoiding libel issues.

  7. Dimo Valev

     /  June 24, 2007

    Hi Farrukh!

    Why did you censure my post? If you don’t like to hear answers – dont ask questions. Better remove it all…

    I thought we’re among creatives but obviously i was deeply mistaken.

    Good luck to you!

  8. Dimo Valev

     /  June 17, 2007

    I won’t sell anything illegal.
    There are many brands and products that I don’t like. Of course if they come with a good budget and are open to new creative ideas… I won’t say no. We have to deal with our everyday needs and one of them is money… 🙁
    May be somewhere in the “bright future” we’ll be able to choose…

  9. Thanks for sharing your perspective with us, Dimo.

    My gut feel is that there are more ad creatives who would be happy to promote and advertise tobacco than ones who would say ‘No’.

    I have a question for you, as a fellow creative. Is there any product you would not sell?


  10. Dimo Valev

     /  June 13, 2007

    I think the tobacco advertising is one of the most interesting fields of the advertising because of all the restrictions it has to confront. It really makes your brain work 😉

    One more thing: guys (I’m an ex-smoker since 9 years but don’t mind smoking) – please don’t be so extreme in your judgment. Why are you trying to ban the tobacco advertising? I think you have problems with the product, not with the way it’s targeted, advertised or sold! Fight for the right cause and live us, the creative people, to perform 😉

  11. Preeti Kambli

     /  January 17, 2007

    Interesting … keep all the hardwork Mr.Farukkh…
    Preeti Kambli – k2pstudio advertising agency- uae

  12. We must do everything we can to warn our children of the dangers of smoking. Show them that it is not, “cool” to smoke and put emphasis on how awful a smoker smells. I saw a very scary movie the other day and made sure that my kids watched it. Hopefully it is powerful enough to put them off smoking for life. Check it out on,
    and click on movie. It is free and available to anyone.

  13. Thanks for your kind words, Ben. I’ll check out what youhave to say soon.


  14. Thanks for your inputs ‘Stop Smoking’. I agree with you.

    Is there a thrid world angle to this issue too, ‘Dog Training’? Interesting.

  15. Excellent post, thanks. I also recently posted an entry about smoking and addiction you might find interesting too.

  16. The tobacco companies are now targetting less developed countries to revitalise their profits. Ban all cigarette advertising.

  17. ALL advertising of cigarettes should be banned.


Leave a Reply to Dimo Valev Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *