The debate surrounding tobacco control has become increasingly polarised as the health and tobacco lobbies seek to influence tobacco policy. In recent times the main focus for debate has been the impact of tobacco advertising on under‐age smoking. However, with the proposed ban on tobacco advertising, this paper argues that branding may prove pivotal to re‐orienting thinking about how tobacco marketing continues to influence smoking initiation. Marketing theory asserts that creating demand for a product is dependent upon building a strong brand identity that concurs with the needs, values and lifestyles of the consumer. It is hypothesised that branding can function by affecting not only the way people perceive specific tobacco products but also their perceptions of smoking behaviour itself. Using branding to extend the debate in this way provides some useful insights into the role tobacco marketing might play in encouraging young people to start smoking. It is concluded that explanations for smoking initiation can be found, not by attempting to isolate the abilities of tobacco marketing and health policy to persuade young people to adopt one behaviour in favour of the other, but by examining how exposure to competing forces such as these during adolescence may conspire to brand smoking in a way that encourages young people to experiment with cigarettes. It is suggested that more significant advances in reducing smoking rates are likely to depend upon a willingness to confront the fundamental contradictions that are created by such competing forces.
Eadie, D., Hastings, G., Stead, M. and MacKintosh, A.M. (1999), "Branding: could it hold the key to future tobacco reduction policy?", Health Education, Vol. 99 No. 3, pp. 103-110. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654289910272745
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