A worker dismantles a billboard ad of the Marlboro man following the ban of tobacco billboard advertising (photo courtesy of


The Before ///// The After //// Top

The "Before"

In 1999, a $206 billion dollar settlement was reached in November where all major tobacco companies agreed to remove thousands of billboard ads across the nation. The ban, one of the provisions of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, occurred in 46 different states, providing that tobacco companies continue to pay for the space until then end of their leases so anti-smoking groups could use them. The deal targeted companies such as Phillip Morris, Brown and Williamson, RJR Nabisco and the smokeless tobacco maker UST Corp. Under the settlement, all outdoor advertising of tobacco products would be disallowed. Distribution and sale of any type of tobacco related merchandise like clothing or caps would also be prohibited, as well as the use of cartoons such as Joe Camel . Ads up to 14 feet, however, are still permitted at stores that sell tobacco products.

The tobacco industry embraced outdoor advertising after the 1971 cigarette advertising ban on television. Though most industry advertising is seen in retail store displays and bars, the Health and Human Services department said tobacco companies spent an estimated $300 million on billboards in 1996. With the loss of these landmarks, anti-tobacco forces predicted an obvious decline in the landscape of tobacco consumption. (Top)

Unfortunately...they were wrong.

The "After"

In a recent study at the University of Illinois (UIC), results show that the industry has not been deterred by the loss of marketing its products. In fact, it is merely shifting its advertising dollars to other environments. The point-of-sale environment is assuming an even greater importance in the tobacco industry's marketing efforts. UIC made observations in 1, 484 stores (43 percent) between February 16 and April 23, 1999; and, in 1,980 stores (57 percent) between April 24 and June 23, 1999. Findings include:

Though the consent to withdraw from advertising might arguably be a positive step for tobacco companies, the result of the study has caused concern for hundreds of anti-smoking societies. One of the biggest issues, however, remains the impact of tobacco advertising and marketing on the youth, which consistently remains the target audience for major cigarette companies. (Top)