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Addict Behav. 2019 Apr 25;96:100-109. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.04.024. [Epub ahead of print]

Selling tobacco: A comprehensive analysis of the U.S. tobacco advertising landscape.

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Department of Health, Behavior & Society, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health,Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Family Medicine & Public Health, UC-San Diego School of Medicine and Division of Population, Moores Cancer Center, San Diego, CA, USA.



To describe advertising tactics of cigarette, e-cigarette, little cigar/cigarillo and smokeless tobacco manufacturers.


We conducted a content analysis of tobacco 827 ads run in the US in 2016. Ads were double coded by trained coders across ten domains: promotions, web/social media presence, use cues, warnings and disclaimers, descriptors, claims, activities, setting, imagery, and themes.


Cigarette ads relied on promotional tactics like discounts and sweepstakes and featured links to websites and mobile apps, all of which can increase brand loyalty and customer engagement. E-cigarette ads used tactics that appear to target new consumers, such as highlighting the product's qualities and modeling product use. Little cigar/cigarillo ads often positioned the product as social and featured music, urban and nightlife settings. Smokeless tobacco ads frequently featured themes, activities and settings stereotypically thought of as masculine.


The tactics used to advertise tobacco products can help generate new consumers, encourage product/brand switching, and escalate use among current users. Understanding how different products are advertised can inform the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory efforts, and tobacco counter-marketing campaigns.


Advertising; Cigarettes; Cigars; Marketing; Smokeless tobacco; Tobacco

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