Cigarette advertising bans and smoking: the flawed policy connection

Jean J. Boddewyn

Bans on the advertising of tobacco products are often justified on the grounds that they will reduce smoking initiation by the young and tobacco consumption by adults. This premise can be seriously challenged on the basis of: (1) studies of juvenile smoking determinants; (2) the experience of countries with such an advertising ban; and (3) statistics on adult tobacco consumption in a variety of countries. As such, it provides no serious basis for public policy to curtail smoking through advertising bans.


Bans on the advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products have been proposed or enacted by various national governments (including more recently Canada, France and New Zealand), supranational institutions (eg the European Union), international organizations (eg the World Health Organization) and numerous health associations in the United States and elsewhere. The promotion of such bans rests on the premise or promise that they are effective in curbing tobacco consumption as well as smoking initiation and maintenance. This analysis argues that there is scant evidence of such effects.