How does the tobacco industry attempt to influence marketing regulations? A systematic review

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 5;9(2):e87389. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087389. eCollection 2014.


Background: The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control makes a number of recommendations aimed at restricting the marketing of tobacco products. Tobacco industry political activity has been identified as an obstacle to Parties' development and implementation of these provisions. This study systematically reviews the existing literature on tobacco industry efforts to influence marketing regulations and develops taxonomies of 1) industry strategies and tactics and 2) industry frames and arguments.

Methods: Searches were conducted between April-July 2011, and updated in March 2013. Articles were included if they made reference to tobacco industry efforts to influence marketing regulations; supported claims with verifiable evidence; were written in English; and concerned the period 1990-2013. 48 articles met the review criteria. Narrative synthesis was used to combine the evidence.

Results: 56% of articles focused on activity in North America, Europe or Australasia, the rest focusing on Asia (17%), South America, Africa or transnational activity. Six main political strategies and four main frames were identified. The tobacco industry frequently claims that the proposed policy will have negative unintended consequences, that there are legal barriers to regulation, and that the regulation is unnecessary because, for example, industry does not market to youth or adheres to a voluntary code. The industry primarily conveys these arguments through direct and indirect lobbying, the promotion of voluntary codes and alternative policies, and the formation of alliances with other industrial sectors. The majority of tactics and arguments were used in multiple jurisdictions.

Conclusions: Tobacco industry political activity is far more diverse than suggested by existing taxonomies of corporate political activity. Tactics and arguments are repeated across jurisdictions, suggesting that the taxonomies of industry tactics and arguments developed in this paper are generalisable to multiple jurisdictions and can be used to predict industry activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Marketing* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Marketing* / methods
  • Marketing* / trends
  • Politics*
  • Tobacco Industry* / economics
  • Tobacco Industry* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco Industry* / trends