1. Discount Brands
3. Low Tar Product Category
4. Rolling Tobacco
5. Tobacco Marketing and Young
In 1999, the House of Commons Health Select
Committee acquired access to internal documents of the main
advertising agencies of the UK tobacco industry as part of
their investigation into the conduct of the tobacco industry.
A range of documents were obtained including: contact reports
between client and agency, client briefs, creative briefs,
media briefs, media schedules, advertising budgets and market
research reports (their own and others by contracted agencies).
The Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University
of Strathclyde have used the TobaccoPapers.com searchable
archive as a tool to analyse these advertising agency documents
and to develop a series of five marketing Case Studies. The
subjects covered are Discount Brands, Sponsorship, the Low
Tar Product Category, Rolling Tobacco and Tobacco Marketing
and Young People.
Relevant keywords have been used to search the archive and
each Case Study contains many extracts from the resulting
internal documents to demonstrate how the UK tobacco industry
and their advertising agencies market their products.
The Case Studies are summarised below. Click on the links
to download the full Case Study in Adobe Acrobat pdf or Word
To view the Adobe Acrobat pdf format, you will need to download
The price of cigarettes is one of the most important factors
affecting tobacco consumption as high cigarette prices can
discourage people from taking up smoking and encourage those
who smoke to quit. Due to the increasing price of cigarettes,
discount brands are becoming popular. This case study demonstrates
that discount brands have the potential to fulfil both the
practical needs (e.g. monetary costs) and emotional needs
(e.g. quality concerns) of smokers. It also highlights that
discount brands are becoming more popular among lower socio-economic
groups and have the potential to attract the patronage of
young smokers. It also highlights that marketing activity
is designed to reassure smokers of the quality and acceptability
of such brands.
view adobe acrobat pdf version
(427 KB) | view word version
The European Union (EU) Directive on the banning of tobacco
advertising and promotion bans tobacco sponsorship in the
EU by 2005. The UK Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act (2002)
bans virtually all forms of tobacco promotion. Sponsorship
has therefore become a vital medium for the tobacco industry
in the face of these advertising and promotion restrictions.
This case study demonstrates that sponsorship works in a very
similar manner to advertising and is used to associate brands
with successful and aspirational characteristics which contravenes
the voluntary regulations that were in place at the time.
The case study concludes by recommending that sponsorship
should be subject to the same statutory restrictions as advertising
and other marketing tools.
view adobe acrobat pdf version (431 KB)
| view word version (104 KB)
3. Low Tar
Concerns have been raised regarding the perceptions smokers
have of ‘low tar’ products in terms of indicating
a less harmful product compared to full strength brands. The
industry’s internal documents confirm these concerns
by highlighting that low tar products are perceived as healthier
and safer alternatives by smokers. The industry exploits these
perceptions and the concerns smokers have regarding their
habit by positioning low tar products to ease the guilt associated
with smoking and make smokers feel better about their habit.
They are also positioned as a substitute for quitting. The
tobacco industry is ultimately concerned with increasing the
number of smokers smoking low tar brands. It achieves this
by recruiting from other brands, attracting new recruits to
the market and by discouraging smokers from quitting. At no
point in the documents are there any concerns raised about
the health effects of these products.
view adobe acrobat pdf version (424 KB)
| view word version (105 KB)
Unlike manufactured cigarettes, the majority of rolling tobacco
in the UK is purchased illegally and it has been alleged that
the tobacco industry may be involved in supporting smuggling
activities. This case study confirms that bootlegging within
the rolling tobacco market is extremely popular and highlights
that the tobacco industry sees bootlegging as a legitimate
and desirable distribution channel. Extracts demonstrate that
certain brands are promoted to bootleggers in other European
countries in order to increase demand among smokers in the
view adobe acrobat pdf version (492 KB) | view word version (232 KB)
Tobacco Marketing and Young People
The majority of people start smoking in their teenage years
and young people are therefore a particularly important market
to the tobacco industry. This case study highlights that smoking
among the young is as much about image as it is about product
attributes and that the tobacco industry regards the image
consciousness of this group as a vulnerability they can exploit.
Extracts demonstrate that the industry have detailed pictures
of the values and aspirations of smokers as young as 15 years.
There is also evidence that they are acutely aware of the
reasons for smoking initiation among young people and among
children as young as 8 years. Recruiting people young is also
viewed as an important factor in the future success of brands.
view adobe acrobat pdf version (462 KB)
| view word version (198 KB)
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