Tobacco Advertising and Promotional Expenditures in Sports and Sporting Events — United States, 1992–2013

Israel T. Agaku, DMD; Satomi Odani, MPH; Stephanie Sturgis, MPH; Charles Harless, MPH; Rebecca Glover-Kudon, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2016;65(32):821-825. 

In This Article


Smokeless tobacco has been actively promoted by tobacco companies using endorsements by major sport figures, and research indicates that tobacco advertising can lead to youth initiation of tobacco use.[1,2] Television and radio advertisements for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco have been prohibited since 1969,* and the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement further prohibited tobacco companies from targeting youths with tobacco product advertisements in specified areas. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under authority of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), prohibited tobacco-brand sponsorship (i.e., sponsorship of sports and entertainment events or other social or cultural events using the tobacco brand name or anything identifiable with any brand of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco).§ However, corporate-name tobacco sponsorship (i.e., sponsorship using the name of the corporation that manufactures regulated tobacco products) is still permitted under certain conditions. To monitor tobacco advertising and promotional activities in sports in the United States, CDC analyzed trends in sports-related marketing expenditures for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco during 1992–2013 using data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). During 1992–2013, sports-related marketing expenditures, adjusted by the consumer price index to constant 2013 dollars, decreased significantly for both cigarettes (from $136 million in 1992 to $0 in 2013) and smokeless tobacco (from $34.8 million in 1992 to $2.1 million in 2013). During 2010–2013, after the prohibition of tobacco-brand sponsorship in sports under the FSPTCA, cigarette manufacturers reported no spending (i.e., $0) on sports-related advertising and promotional activities; in contrast, smokeless tobacco manufacturers reported expenditures of $16.3 million on advertising and promoting smokeless tobacco in sports during 2010–2013. These findings indicate that despite prohibitions on brand sponsorship, smokeless tobacco products continue to be marketed in sports in the United States, potentially through other indirect channels such as corporate-name sponsorship. Enhanced measures are warranted to restrict youth-oriented tobacco marketing and promotional activities that could lead to tobacco initiation and use among children and adolescents.[2] Reducing tobacco industry promotion through sponsorship of public and private events is an evidence-based strategy for preventing youth initiation of tobacco use.[3] In addition, other proven interventions (e.g., tobacco price increases, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns, tobacco-free policies inclusive of smokeless tobacco, and barrier-free access to cessation services), could help reduce smokeless tobacco use in the United States.[1]

Marketing expenditures reported by tobacco companies during 1992–2013 were obtained from the FTC for cigarette and smokeless tobacco.[4,5] FTC classifies cigarette and smokeless tobacco** advertising and promotional expenditures into the following mutually exclusive categories: newspapers; magazines; outdoor; audio, visual; transit; point-of-sale; price discounts; promotional allowances (retailers, wholesalers, and other); sampling; specialty item distribution (branded and nonbranded); public entertainment (adult-only and general-audience); sponsorships; endorsements and testimonials; direct mail; coupons and retail-value-added; Internet (including company website, social media, and other); telephone; and all other. Sports and sporting events expenditures are reported by tobacco companies as a component of one or more of these mutually exclusive categories.††

Tobacco advertising in sports and sporting events was defined by FTC as expenditures used for 1) the sponsoring, advertising, or promotion of sports or sporting events; support of an individual, group, or sports team; and purchase of or support for equipment, uniforms, sports facilities, or training facilities; 2) advertising in the name of the tobacco company or any of its brands in a sports facility, on a scoreboard, or in conjunction with the reporting of sports results; and 3) functional promotional items (e.g., clothing, hats, etc.) connected with a sporting event.

Data were analyzed separately for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to assess total dollar expenditures, as well as the percentage of all marketing expenditures that were sports-related. Expenditures were adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the annual average consumer price index for 2013 was used as reference. Trends were assessed using Joinpoint regression§§ (p<0.05); for sports-related cigarette marketing expenditures after 2005, joinpoints could not be assessed because these figures were not provided by FTC in 2006 and 2009 to avoid potential disclosure of individual company data.¶¶ In addition, annual percentage change (APC) and average annual percentage changes (AAPC) were computed to summarize the temporal trends during the study period.

Adjusted aggregate expenditures for smokeless tobacco marketing across all advertising and promotional categories was $191.5 million in 1992 and $503.2 million in 2013 ( Table 1 ). Sports-related smokeless tobacco marketing expenditures decreased from $34.8 million in 1992 (18.2%) to $2.1 million in 2013 (0.4%) (p<0.05). During 1992–2009, expenditures declined (APC = −5.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −7.6 to −3.1) (p<0.05); steeper declines occurred during 2009–2013 (APC = −45.1; 95% CI = −55.8 to −31.8) (p<0.05). The overall rate of change (AAPC) during 1992–2013 was −14.7 (95% CI = −18.3 to −11.0). The percentage of all marketing expenditures that were sports-related was higher for smokeless tobacco than cigarettes in each study year (Figure).


Sports-related cigarette and smokeless tobacco marketing expenditures and percentage of total expenditures* — United States, 1992–2013
*Percentage of total cigarette and smokeless tobacco marketing expenditures that were spent in sports and sporting events.

Adjusted aggregate expenditures for cigarette marketing across all advertising and promotional categories was $8.7 billion in 1992 and $8.9 billion in 2013 ( Table 2 ). Sports-related cigarette marketing expenditures decreased from $136 million in 1992 (1.6%) to $0 in 2013. Adjusted expenditures were stable during 1992–2001 (APC = 4.1; 95% CI = −0.9 to 9.4) and declined significantly during 2001–2005 (APC = −34.9; 95% CI = −45.1 to −22.8) (p<0.05). The overall rate of change (AAPC) during 1992–2005 was −9.9 (95% CI = −14.6 to −4.9).

n 1998, the Attorneys General of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories signed the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the five largest U.S. tobacco companies, restricting youth-oriented tobacco advertising, marketing and promotion (
**Data collected from manufacturers of the following smokeless tobacco types: chewing tobacco, plug tobacco, scotch tobacco, moist snuff, snus, and dissolvable tobacco products.
††The FTC requires tobacco manufacturers to report the total amount of money spent advertising at and promoting sports and sporting events. This question is separate from, and duplicative of, the reporting of the various distinct advertising and promotion categories. Thus, advertising expenditures for sports and sporting events could span across several of the distinct categories of tobacco advertising and promotion expenditures (e.g., general audience public entertainment, sponsorship, etc.)
¶¶Estimates for sports-related cigarette marketing expenditures were reported by FTC as "N/A" in 2006 and 2009 because only one company reported spending money on a particular type of advertising or promotion. The expenditures for those years were included in the "All Others" category, to avoid potential disclosure of individual company data.