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Tobacco promotion at the retail level is pervasive
Tobacco firms face an increasingly stringent regulatory environment. Despite having fewer viable options in the promotional mix, industry promotional spending has persisted, reaching record levels. In the USA, $11.22 billion was spent on tobacco promotion during 2001.1 Once one form of promotion is banned, tobacco firms utilise other marketing strategies to continue communicating brand imagery. Radio and television advertising was no longer acceptable for cigarettes in New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia, commencing in 1963, 1965, 1971, 1972, and 1976, respectively. Consequently, the tobacco industry shifted their promotional spending largely toward the print media. Individual tobacco companies also turned to sponsoring broadcast sports events to compensate for lost broadcast advertising exposure. In Canada, with the implementation of the Tobacco Products Control Act that stipulated a ban on tobacco product advertising, expenditures on sponsorship increased considerably during the late 1980s and early 1990s.2 And once bans were placed on tobacco sponsorship in countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the tobacco industry placed further resources toward point-of-sale strategies, package design, trademark diversification, direct marketing campaigns, and “cigarette girls” who returned to bars and nightclubs.3–9 In the USA, a ban on billboard advertising, in accordance with the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, prompted an increase in the prevalence of both interior and exterior tobacco advertising at retail outlets (fig 1).10,11 Richard Pollay has remarked, “It’s like squeezing a balloon. You can shut down one media, but the problem just moves somewhere else”.12
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