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Uncovering the advertising and promotional strategies of tobacco companies in Cambodia: recall of below-the-line marketing among young male smokers


Introduction Tobacco companies have used below-the-line marketing in novel ways to promote their brands to youth in low/middle-income countries in Southeast Asia. This study explores how young male smokers in Cambodia experience below-the-line marketing strategies.

Methods Convenience sampling was used to recruit 147 young male smokers (18–24 years) in Cambodia in early 2020. Local research assistants conducted mixed-methods interviews with participants in Khmer or English. Participants recalled exposure to below-the-line marketing strategies and provided in-depth descriptions about their experiences with individual sales promotions. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results 54% of participants recalled exposure to at least one below-the-line marketing strategy, including point-of-sale promotions (32.7%), individual sales promotions (27.9%) and online advertising (14.3%). Participants described individual sales promotions in public settings, and recalled that promoters were mostly female, attractive and targeted young males. Tactics used to encourage young people to accept promotional offers included free cigarettes and sample packets, swapping current cigarettes for new brands and collecting consumer details after interviewing. The brands and product features of cigarettes being promoted were readily described by participants.

Conclusion This study provides evidence that illegal below-the-line marketing is still occurring in Cambodia, and increased monitoring and enforcement of advertising restrictions is needed.

  • advertising and promotion
  • low/middle-income country
  • tobacco industry
  • global health
  • surveillance and monitoring

Data availability statement

No data are available. Not applicable.

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