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

Meghan Bridgid Moran, Kathryn Heley, Karen Baldwin, Connie Xiao, Victor Lin, John P. Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe advertising tactics of cigarette, e-cigarette, little cigar/cigarillo and smokeless tobacco manufacturers. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Advertising
  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Marketing
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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