Editorials

Tobacco marketing: shackling the pied piper

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7106.439 (Published 23 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:439

To stop the young from smoking we must move beyond advertising bans

  1. Gerard Hastings, Professora,
  2. Lynn MacFadyen, Research officera,
  3. Martine Stead, Senior researchera
  1. a Centre for Social Marketing, Strathclyde University, Glasgow G4 0RQ

    These are encouraging times for tobacco control. Both the British and the American governments are trying to curb the activities of the tobacco industry, and the European Union will probably now move against tobacco advertising across Europe. This is a good moment, therefore, to emphasise that our key concern should be not with advertising, or sponsorship, or indeed any individual element of the industry's promotional activity, but with the whole process of tobacco marketing.

    As with the successful marketing of other consumer goods, tobacco marketing is based on careful research to provide a detailed understanding of customers, and this guides linked strategies in the four marketing areas of product development, distribution, pricing, and promotion. These strategies aim to build successful brands and thereby maximise the appeal of the industry's offerings.

    Tobacco has two sorts of customer: starters, who are just trying out the habit and deciding whether to take it up, and committed users, who have been smoking for some time. Committed users are easier to please: they simply need access to their regular fix of nicotine.

    Starters …

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