Promoting tobacco through the international language of dance music: British American Tobacco and the Ministry of Sound

Eur J Public Health. 2011 Feb;21(1):21-8. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckq009. Epub 2010 Feb 15.


Background: Tobacco companies target young adults through marketing strategies that use bars and nightclubs to promote smoking. As restrictions increasingly limit promotions, music marketing has become an important vehicle for tobacco companies to shape brand image, generate brand recognition and promote tobacco.

Methods: Analysis of previously secret tobacco industry documents from British American Tobacco, available at

Results: In 1995, British American Tobacco (BAT) initiated a partnership with London's Ministry of Sound (MOS) nightclub to promote Lucky Strike cigarettes to establish relevance and credibility among young adults in the UK. In 1997, BAT extended their MOS partnership to China and Taiwan to promote State Express 555. BAT sought to transfer values associated with the MOS lifestyle brand to its cigarettes. The BAT/MOS partnership illustrates the broad appeal of international brands across different regions of the world.

Conclusion: Transnational tobacco companies like BAT are not only striving to stay contemporary with young adults through culturally relevant activities such as those provided by MOS but they are also looking to export their strategies to regions across the world. Partnerships like this BAT/MOS one skirt marketing restrictions recommended by the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The global scope and success of the MOS program emphasizes the challenge for national regulations to restrict such promotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Music*
  • Tobacco Industry / methods*
  • Young Adult