Three Ways the Tobacco Industry Targets You

Tobacco products kill more than 8 million people around the world every year. This means that the tobacco industry constantly needs to find new customers – which is why they spend billions on marketing and advertising.

To make as much money as possible they target young people, as the earlier a smoker starts, the harder it is to quit, which means they are a guaranteed customer for years to come.

To mark World No Tobacco Day on the 31st of May, we are sharing with you some of the tactics the tobacco industry uses to try and make their products appealing to you.

1. Social Media

Adverts for tobacco and e-cigarettes have lots of strict rules that they must obey in order for them to be shown on billboards or on TV - in fact, most tobacco advertising is actually banned in the UK.

However, this doesn't stop the tobacco industry and e-cigarette companies – many of which are owned by big tobacco companies – from using social media to market their products to young people.

They do this by paying celebrities or social media influencers to post photos and videos featuring cigarettes or e-cigarettes. An investigation found that big tobacco companies ran more than 100 social media campaigns and these posts were viewed more than 25 billion times worldwide.

Although Facebook and Instagram have recently banned people from promoting tobacco products and e-cigarettes on their platforms, these companies are already finding ways to get around the rules.

2. Flavours

E-cigarette companies say that their products should not be used by people under the age of 18. However, many e-cigarettes come in flavours normally found in sweet shops like bubble gum, mango or lemon sherbet. Think about who these flavours are really aimed at.

Companies know that these flavours make it more likely that young people will try e-cigarettes, so this is a marketing tactic aimed at young people. Most vapes also contain nicotine, which is addictive.

Find out more about e-cigarettes.

3. Films and TV shows

Although the UK has banned tobacco adverts on TV and at the cinema, the tobacco industry has a long history of placing their products in films and on television shows to make smoking look cool or glamorous.

In 2018, tobacco companies were told off for giving Love Island contestants their products whilst on the show, giving their brand exposure. ITV then stopped the cast from being filmed smoking.

Research shows that seeing smoking on the screen increases the chances that a young person will try smoking.

What can you do?

The tobacco industry has spent decades hiding the way they market their products to young people. Don’t be fooled by their tricks and tactics. By being aware of these tactics, you can help make them less effective. Why not follow #TobaccoExposed to learn even more?

Keep in mind that they need you, more than you need them.

For more info on the benefits of being smoke-free visit