Tobacco firms work on guidelines for ads
NEW YORK -- Several international tobacco companies, in what appears to be an unusual move, are working together to set standard guidelines for ways their products should be marketed around the world.
A spokesman for the overseas tobacco division of Philip Morris Cos., the world's largest cigarette manufacturer, confirmed that Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco plc, Japan Tobacco Inc. and ``several other manufacturers'' are ``discussing globally consistent standards'' for advertising and marketing.
The purpose of the discussions, said spokesman Greg Prager, is to ``define minimum restrictions on our activities worldwide.'' Prager wouldn't comment further.
The trade publication Advertising Age reported in its Aug. 13 edition that the collective discussions spawned a report titled International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards, which focused on ``downscaling'' advertising efforts around the globe. The plan, according to the magazine article, calls for ``major curbs on print ads, TV, outdoor, product-placement and promotional events.''
It isn't unheard of for tobacco companies to join forces, though they have largely united to defend themselves against legal attacks. The current discussions appear to be the first time key industry players have collaborated to discuss their marketing practices.
Tobacco companies have been criticized for using marketing tactics -- from cartoon figures to billboards near schools -- that inappropriately target children and teen-agers.