Recently on the show Last Week Tonight, political satirist John Oliver spent an unprecedented 18 minutes on his show taking down Big Tobacco. Watch the full segment here (warning: the clip does contain some explicit language).
Beyond implementing John Oliver’s proposed new mascot for Marlboro, Jeff the Diseased Lung in a cowboy hat, (check out the hashtag#JeffWeCan), there are policies that can help counter the tobacco industry’s work to find “replacement smokers” among youth, including licensing and zoning laws that can limit the number of stores selling tobacco and the distance they can be from schools, restricting tobacco advertisements and promotions, restricting product availability, placement, and packaging, and raising tobacco prices through non-tax approaches to restrict youth access to tobacco products. Oliver showcases the global bully tactics of big tobacco companies, such as suing countries that are trying to pass public health measures to save lives. We have also seen this tactic here in the US in places like Haverstraw, NY. He also showed how tobacco companies target kids worldwide with youth-appealing marketing and stores near schools. One clip shows a tobacco retailer in Indonesia right outside a school, selling cheap single cigarettes.
Simply put, tobacco marketing matters. Research shows that tobacco marketing can cause youth to start smoking, keep current smokers hooked, and make it harder to quit. These issues are especially important to address at the point of sale, where the tobacco industry spends 89% of their entire marketing budget. Learn more about why point of sale tobacco marketing matters in this short video (we can’t promise to be as witty as John Oliver, but we still hope you’ll enjoy).