Advertising and Marketing

On June 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comprehensive authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of commercial tobacco products. The Tobacco Control Act contains several provisions related to the retail environment. Perhaps most notably, the law mandated restrictions on the sales, marketing, and advertising of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. 

The Tobacco Control Act expands the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco product advertising. It also prohibits tobacco products from being marketed with health descriptors such as “light,” “mild,” or “low,” unless the FDA has specifically approved the marketing.

Additionally, the Tobacco Control Act created new requirements for warnings for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, both on the products themselves and on any advertising for the product – including advertisements in retail stores. Cigarette packages and cigarette advertising must contain specific textual warnings. The law also requires the FDA to create warnings that graphically depict the dangers of cigarette smoking, and it created new text warnings for smokeless tobacco packages and advertising.

This section contains background information and resources on the advertising and marketing of tobacco products. It covers topics such as policy considerations for communities interested in placing restrictions on tobacco advertising, as well as the regulation of tobacco products at the local, state, and federal level.


Featured resources are below. Other relevant resources in right sidebar (desktop/tablet), or end of page (mobile).

Kid denying cigarette offer

The Tobacco Industry & the Black Community: The Targeting of African Americans (2021)

Factsheet describing the tobacco industry’s manipulation and abuse of targeted, at-risk populations and its use of front groups, distortion, and corporate giving to mask disreputable corporate conduct.

E-cigarettes and liquid

Using Retailer AVCs as a Tool in Tobacco Control (2015)

An overview of tobacco-related assurances of voluntary compliance (AVCs) and how they can be used to help regulate tobacco advertising and marketing in the retail environment.

Kids shopping at a convenience store

Point-of-Sale Strategies: A Tobacco Control Guide (2014)

A 52-page guide with a wealth of practical information on selecting and implementing strategies to limit the sale, display, and advertising of tobacco products in the retail environment. (Center for Public Health Systems Science at Washington University in St. Louis and Public Health Law Center)