The Use of Sports Imagery and Terminology on Cigarette Packs from Fourteen Countries

Cerise Kleb, Kevin Welding, Joanna E. Cohen, Katherine C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Background: Tobacco companies have historically associated their products with sports through event sponsorship and sports-themed advertising campaigns. Such linkages serve to enhance brand image by connecting cigarette brands to ideals associated with sports such as strength, individual accomplishment, and a healthy body. Public health policy progress has created restrictions for tobacco sponsorship and restricted traditional advertising avenues for tobacco products. Nonetheless, the pack itself remains as a mechanism by which to link cigarettes to sports and sporting prowess. Thus, we analyze depictions of sport and references to sports terminology on cigarette packs. Objectives: To describe the sports-related marketing appeals on cigarette packages purchased in 14 low and middle income countries. Methods: In 2013, we collected and coded cigarette packs from 14 low and middle income countries and we returned to four of these countries for further data collection in 2015. Packs from both years were assessed for sports-related appeals (text and imagery) and sports-related brand names to identify sports appeals on cigarette packs. Results: The analysis yielded 36 brands with distinct depictions of sport or sporting terminology on the pack. Text-based appeals were found on 24 of the 36 distinct “sports appeal” packs (e.g., “Polo,” “Olympic,” “Win,” “iScore”). Sporting imagery was present on 22 packs (e.g., soccer ball, race car, wrestling match, trophy). Conclusions: The pack is a powerful medium through which tobacco companies continue to associate their products with idealized concepts associated with sports. These are potentially problematic associations that could be restricted through plain and standardized packaging policy initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-880
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 16 2018


  • Cigarette pack
  • content analysis
  • low and middle income countries
  • marketing
  • plain packaging
  • policy
  • sports
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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