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To Smoke Or Not To Smoke? Either Way There Will Always Be Tobacco

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Executive Summary

The aim of this report was to analyze a series of countries, including Canada, China, France, United Kingdom, and United States with the intention of viewing how each country perceives tobacco. The analysis of the each country’s view on tobacco was completed using a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research. The analysis produced a range of different perceptions on the issue, including distinctly different laws and regulations between countries; it was possible to gather a general consensus of each nation’s view on tobacco.

The initial analysis of tobacco perception was conducted under the lenses of statistical information, articles, laws and regulations, and advertisements. These statistics include detailed tobacco consumption figures, and worldly usage rates in different markets. At its peak in the 1950’s, tobacco was enormously profitable and selling at an all-time high. But health issues soon tarnished tobacco’s image, and brought upon a stream of anti-smoking legislation over the next 50 years. The public fear of smoking culminated in the United States in 1998 with the Master Settlement Agreement. This outlawed any advertisement targeted to youths, as well as outlawed ads in stadiums or at sporting events. In 2000 alone, the US per capita rate dropped to 1,551 cigarettes, compared to the astounding 2,905 cigarettes in 1976.

Progressive actions towards removing tobacco advertising also are taking place in Canada, UK, and France. These governments have weighed the health and business factors and acted against the tobacco industry. In light of its health implications, many countries have begun shifting from lenient to more stringent laws concerning tobacco use. The laws and regulations in this report relate to tobacco advertisements, as well as laws encompassing tobacco outside the realm of advertisements. For example, In 2008, both France and the UK became smoke-free in public places. Furthermore, all public sponsorship and advertising has been outlawed. As many as 58% of licensees in the UK have seen smokers visiting stores less frequently, leading to an overall reduction in sales of 7.3 percent. In addition, as a result French tobacco users have been making a shift towards roll your own tobacco in spite of cigarette price increases. Alternatively, China has taken a different stance on tobacco. Due to their political structure and monopolization of the tobacco industry, it has a vested interest in seeing it be highly lucrative. Nonetheless, China promises a smoke-free Olympic games this summer and promises a ban on all tobacco advertising by 2011.

These countries of the world along with the help of anti-tobacco groups are doing their best to decrease tobacco use throughout the world. The regulations placed on tobacco purchasing and distribution, and bans on advertising and public use are all means of improvement. Information concerning tobacco use and its effects are released daily through commercials, lectures or anti-smoking conventions, and other general knowledge made available to the public; all indicating that tobacco is killing the consumer. Nevertheless, whether it is because of differing cultures or some form of addiction, tobacco products and their uses appear to have a permanent hold in worldly markets.


More than one in three adults worldwide (more than 1.1 billion people) smoke, 80 percent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use affect every organ system in the body, and are major causes of cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fetal damage, and many other conditions. Five million deaths occur worldwide each year due to tobacco use. If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2020 and 70 percent of these will occur in developing countries. Tobacco use was responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century and will kill one billion people in the 21st century unless effective interventions are implemented. Governments worldwide are putting strict regulations on tobacco products and the marketing of tobacco products. Yet, the restrictions placed on tobacco companies only hinder their ability to directly reach consumers. Companies are finding creative ways to circumvent legislation and are fixed in comfortable growth. Roughly half a century of damning press and public censure has failed to put tobacco companies' lights out.

United States

The United States categorizes the tobacco market as the legal sale of all cigarettes, not including the sale of loose tobacco. In 2006 sales for this market reached total revenues of $77.2 billion, this market share was a 1.8% decrease from 2005 and consisted of a volume of 369.6 billion sticks being sold. The United States accounts for 15.8% of the global tobacco market's value and Philip Morris is the leading company in the US tobacco market, holding a 50.3% share of the market's volume. The leading corporations involved in the tobacco industry are Altria Group Inc., which owns Phillip Morris, Reynolds American Inc., and Carolina Group. The tobacco industry’s market share has been in a decline since 2002 at about a rate of 3.5% . It is said that this decline in market share is directly related to the government laws and restrictions that have been put in place over the past 50 years.

Advertising for tobacco in the United States as in most countries is restricted. This however, has become a large topic of debate over the past couple of decades due to the fact that the cigarette companies feel as though by being restricted as to whom and where they can advertise; they insist they are deprived of their first amendment right to free speech. However, before we look into this issue, we must first understand what events led to the laws and regulations being passed, and how the tobacco companies reacted and changed their advertising in response. Once we have a better idea of this, we will then move on to talk about the issues surrounding first amendment rights and also what social impacts tobacco companies and their advertisements have had on the United States and its citizens.

Advertising and Government Policies in the 1950's

Before the 1950’s, tobacco companies were in full swing and it seemed as though nothing stood in their way. The top five cigarette brands were all selling over 19 million sticks a year with the highest



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