tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

tocacco Cigarettes are smoking products consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. Cigars are typically composed completely of whole-leaf tobacco. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. The term cigarette refers to a tobacco cigarette too but it can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
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Effects of tobacco ad ban not yet felt

Two years after the advertising ban on tobacco products was first implemented in the Philippines, its effects have yet to make considerable impact on the sales of cigarettes, indicating a long road ahead for the campaign to reduce the consumption of these products.

Financial reports of tobacco companies here showed that along with the decrease in advertising spending during the first year of the ban, cigarette sales also went down, but not much.

It will be too much to expect the ban to instantly make a dent on cigarette sales, say advertising specialists that Newsbreak spoke to, because the tobacco industry has saturated the mass media with their propaganda for the last 50 years.


Despite strong opposition from tobacco companies and their allies in Congress, the Philippines on June 23, 2003, enacted a law banning all forms of tobacco advertising. Republic Act 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, regulates the packaging, use, sale, distribution, and advertisements of tobacco products.

Beginning 2007, tobacco products can no longer be advertised in television, cable, radio, cinemas, and billboards. In July 2008, the advertising ban expanded to all forms of mass media—including newspapers and magazines—except “inside premises of point-of-sale retail establishments.”

The bill’s passage was said to be short of a “miracle,” according to Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, the proponent of the House version of the bill. “It took me two Congresses to realize RA 9211. I’m so happy. We were able to impose total advertising ban.”

Other anti-tobacco bills—notably the graphic health warning bill—are hitting snags in Congress.

Changing TV

The tobacco ad ban changed Philippine television. Viewers got a break from the images of celebrities and models sticking out cigarettes in between their fingers.

The Marlboro man, the cowboy, had always been the most recalled advertisement. It was the most unique, too. The other cigarette advertisements were all very similar. The ads notably featured top of the line cars, often speeding on racetracks or down the mountain. The car stops and shows the model pulling out a cigarette. On the passenger seat is a pretty and sexy woman shown to be impressed with the model.

“It was all image. It was aspirational. What else is there to do?” said an advertiser who was previously involved in creating ads for a foreign cigarette brand. With the influence of the Western culture, the tobacco company he worked for also had a policy of showing American models—never locals.

Before the ad ban, cigarette ads—along with hair products and mobile phones—dominated the commercial breaks.

In 2006, or the last year that tobacco advertisements were allowed in television and radio, the big players Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Philip Morris Philippines, and British American Tobacco spent P623 million, P677 million, and P70 million, respectively, in advertising and promotions.

Reduced consumption

The tobacco ad ban was aimed to “promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens from the hazards of tobacco smoke.”

Since above-the-line advertising—television, radio, and print—is the most effective tool to promote a product in the Philippines, anti-tobacco advocates believe that if you cut the exposure of consumers to these tobacco ads, consumption would decline.

“The advertising ban saves the youth from getting the idea that smoking is glamorous. All these ads are targeting the youth, when they are still in the exploration stage in their lives and they try all sorts of activities like smoking,” Gunigundo said.

According to records at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the country’s biggest tobacco player—Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco Corporation—posted a decline in sales in the first year of tobacco ad ban. From P30 billion in 2006, it reported P29 billion in net sales in 2007.

Fortune Tobacco produces variants of cigarette brands Hope, Winston, Mark, Camel, More, Champion, and Fortune. It has licensing agreement with RJ Reynolds. The same financial statement Fortune Tobacco submitted to the SEC show that the company spent P259 million for advertising in 2007. It was down from P624 million in 2006 when there was no advertising ban.

Another tobacco player, La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory, also reported a decline in sales. It reported P800 million in net sales in 2006 when it spent P13 million in advertising expenses. With the tobacco ad ban in 2007, La Suerte spent P2 million in advertising. Its net sales was down to P634 million.

Poor Economy

However, the ad ban may not be the only factor in the decline of cigarette sales.

“I’m sure the ad ban helped in reducing consumption, but it’s hard to tell by how much. The bigger factor is the economy,” said a tobacco industry observer.

“The lower sales cannot be attributed to the ad ban because of the complicated situation of the economy right now,” Gunigundo agreed.

British American Tobacco Philippine Limited (BAT) tells a different story. In spite of the ad ban, the distributor of Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, and Pall Mall posted an increase in sales.

In the first year of the advertising ban, its advertising expenses was down to P9 million compared to P70 million in 2006. However, its sales increased from P90 million in 2006 to P95 million in 2007.

The difference lies in the demographics of the consumers, explained the industry observer.

Fortune Tobacco and La Suerte distribute “low-end” cigarette brands that cater to poor smokers.

Historically, tobacco products have been resilient to bad economy. This is among the reasons why the Department of Finance is proposing to impose higher taxes on the industry.

“If you’re poor and you are a smoker, you are probably smoking Hope. Instead of your usual five sticks a day, you just smoke three sticks,” the industry observer explained. Thus, the decrease in the sales of low-end brands.

On the other hand, the “can-afford” consumers of BAT products wouldn’t have problems maintaining the habit.

Not Overnight

But it’s not to say that the tobacco advertising ban has no impact.

“The ad ban is the first step to a long process. There is a long history of tobacco advertising. It has built an image that communicates, among others, freedom and independence. You cannot undo that overnight,” said another advertiser previously involved in creating tobacco advertisements for another international brand.

“The tobacco ad ban helps in reducing the glamour associated with smoking,” said Ana Leah Sarabia, executive director of Women’s Media Circle, a group working with anti-tobacco advocates to protect the welfare of women.

But it’s not only advertisements that created the image of smoking being glamorous and indicating a status of success in life.

“Don’t just focus on advertising. It’s the fault of media in general. It’s the fault of Hollywood. It’s a long time ago. Smoking has been portrayed to be cool since the 1950s,” said the advertiser.

The propaganda started as early as the fifties. There were Marlboro men that young boys looked up to. Girls had famous celebrities like Audrey Hepburn posing in photos with a cigarette stick.

Cigarettes are among the most marketed product in the world. Global promotion of tobacco products is estimated to be in tens of billions of US dollars.

In these activities, the dangers of smoking were conveniently glossed over.

A lot of efforts then will be needed to counter the tobacco industry’s long history of propaganda, say the advertisers we interviewed.

“The tobacco ad ban needs to be supported by other efforts. While there is a ban, there should also be efforts to communicate the flip side of smoking,” one of them said.

Here lies the difficulty. The anti-tobacco advocates should have pockets as deep as the tobacco companies’.

In 1992, Health Secretary Juan Flavier introduced the Yosi Kadiri (Smoke is Disgusting) campaign. The campaign sought to decrease smoking among children, and attempted to counter the handsome cowboy and sporting images of smokers promoted in tobacco advertising. The campaign mascot, Yosi Kadiri, appeared in the media with movie and television personalities. The campaign was considered quite successful, although government funding rapidly was depleted.

“It was a great campaign, but it was not sustained,” said the advertiser.
© Copyright: Abs-cbnnews

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