Attempts to estimate the effects of advertising on sales go back to at least the 1950s and there is now a voluminous literature on the subject. In this IEA classic from the late 1990s Professor Hugh High steps into this minefield, providing a valuable critical survey of models of the effects of tobacco advertising.
After examining in some detail numerous models from both developed and less developed countries, he concludes that ‘...there is no evidence that advertising of tobacco products leads to an increase in the total consumption of tobacco,’ though it affects the market shares of individual brands.
Professor High also investigates the claim that tobacco advertising is particularly influential in inducing the young to begin smoking, finding there is no evidence to support the drastic policies measures designed to counter this.
High sees restrictions on tobacco advertising from a liberal viewpoint as constraints on individual freedom to choose and freedom of information. Although written almost ten years ago, the issues raised still have relevance today, particularly in the so-called ‘obesity debate’.
1999, Occasional Papers 107, ISBN 0 255 36423 7, 118pp, PB
Prohibitions edited by John Meadowcroft