Tobacco Marketing in Portugal
Background: Portugal has had tobacco control legislation since the 1980s, at the forefront of applying bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control from 2005 onwards reinforced the opposition of the State and Society to the aggressive lobbying strategy of the Tobacco Industry (TI). The new policies strengthened the previous ban but marketing strategies remained, including of electronic cigarettes(ENDS) and heat tobacco (HT). Although these new products were included in tobacco control legislation in an attempt to curb marketing, the last few years have been characterized by a marketing strategy that is irreconcilable with tobacco control and health protection.
Methods: This article aims to provide a descriptive synthesis of TI’s marketing actions during 2019, identified through: (i) direct observation and recording made by Non-Governamental Organizations, and (ii) systematic collection of events publicized by TI.
Results: Current strategies used by TI in several countries were previously identified and served as a reference to recognize similar initiatives in Portugal. Furthermore, some are international in scope and their impact is felt in Portugal. The effect of marketing messages, mostly present in the Formula 1, Netflix, Instagram and Facebook is also easily perceived. The main marketing initiatives identified in Portugal were divided into three categories: non-regulated promotion and commercialization of ENDs/HT, TI's social responsibility actions, legitimization of TI's role in public policies, including scientific events.
Conclusions: The TI’s works actively to undermine the recognition of the burden of tobacco harm, avoid the change of behavior in relation to tobacco consumption, and delay political commitment to tobacco control policies. The importance of taking a stand by governments and society to counteract TI’s strategies depends on knowledge of their marketing strategies. In an globalized sector, the old marketing objective of tobacco brands to dispute consumers became secondary. Understanding TI’s new objectives and strategies will allow to redefine the Public Policies, to prevent the consumption and future potential harms to health.