CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Philip Morris bites the bullet

Holly Moore explains why the US tobacco giant has proposed ad restrictions

Holly Moore explains why the US tobacco giant has proposed ad


It will be a bit harder to find Marlboro Country if the US Congress

chooses to adopt the proposals of the tobacco giant, Philip Morris, to

restrict tobacco advertising.

After years of attacks by special interest groups, last month Philip

Morris took the initiative, issuing a ‘blue print’ for the future

marketing of tobacco products in the hope of pre-empting stricter

regulation from the Food and Drug Administration.

Tobacco manufacturers have been under fire for years for creating icons

like the Marlboro cowboy and Joe Camel which, critics claim, appeal

directly to underage smokers. To combat this, Philip Morris proposes

that the tobacco industry contributes dollars 250 million over five

years to combat teenage smoking.

It’s surprising that Philip Morris has also proposed a ban on the sale

of non-tobacco items displaying product brand names, such as T-shirts

and gym bags, given that four years ago the company staged the biggest

promotion in cigarette history, a dollars 200 million spree, dubbed the

Marlboro Adventure Team, that offered consumers products such as jackets

and caps emblazoned with the Marlboro logo.

Many fear legal restraints, seeing them as a threat to freedom of

speech. And while Philip Morris was mapping out the terms of legislation

late last month, the Supreme Court ruled that all ‘truthful, non-

deceptive advertising about a legal product’ is guaranteed protection

under the US constitution’s First Amendment.

However, so far, the White House has been underwhelmed by Philip

Morris’s proposals, stating that the measures fall ‘a little bit short’

of President Bill Clinton’s call to curtail underage smoking.

Holly Moore is an associate editor at Adweek in New York