Marketing Restrictions

Tobacco products are among the most heavily regulated consumer goods in the world. These adult consumer products are subject to extensive federal, state and local licensing, registration and minimum age requirements.

These requirements became even more extensive in 2009, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, “roll your own tobacco” and smokeless tobacco products. On May 10, 2016, the FDA published a Final Rule to extend the Agency’s authority to regulate other tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, and other products containing tobacco-derived nicotine. The FDA has the authority to regulate virtually all aspects of the sale, distribution and marketing of these tobacco products.

Federal Regulation

In 2009, Congress empowered the FDA to regulate all tobacco products. Altria's tobacco companies supported this landmark legislation. Today, Altria and its tobacco companies communicate with the agency as it exercises this authority. They also supported the FDA's Final Rule to extend its authority to regulate other tobacco products, including cigars, e-vapor products, and other products containing tobacco-derived nicotine, in May 2016.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act includes a number of restrictions on cigarette and smokeless tobacco sales, marketing and advertising, including:

  • imposing a national minimum age of 18 to purchase;
  • prohibiting the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in vending machines, self-service displays or other impersonal modes of sales, except in very limited situations;
  • prohibiting sampling of cigarettes;
  • restricting sampling of smokeless tobacco;
  • prohibiting cigarette and smokeless tobacco brand name sponsorships; and
  • prohibiting the sale or distribution of items, such as hats and t-shirts, with cigarette and smokeless tobacco brands or logos.


The significant rise in youth use of e-vapor threatens to undermine the hard-fought gains made in preventing underage use of conventional tobacco products. We support the FDA's commitment to leverage its authority and resources to take additional steps to address these new, emerging issues associated with underage use, while continuing the progress that's been made on traditional products.

PM USA is committed to being part of the solution. In addition to our long-standing efforts, we supported legislation to raise the minimum age for all tobacco products to 21. We believe this is the most effective step available to reverse rising underage e-vapor rates and protecting the potential for reduced harm products for adults. In December 2019, federal legislation raised the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21, making it the law of the land.

New products that have already received FDA authorization, like IQOS, are subject to FDA's advanced review of marketing materials and post-market surveillance requirements. These regulatory requirements re-enforce our standards for responsible marketing and serve as affirmation of our companies’ adherence to our commitments. However, FDA has not issued regulations to broadly restrict manufacturer marketing practices of newer tobacco products, like heated tobacco. In absence of these regulations, we believe all manufacturers have a responsibility to limit reach to unintended audiences, including non-users and people under the legal age to purchase tobacco products. Doing so will help ensure that these innovative tobacco products do not cause unintended societal harm and preserve the viability of these products as potential pathways for adult tobacco consumers interested in transitioning away from cigarettes.

Product Placement

Since 1990, our policy has been to decline all third party requests to use, display or reference our cigarette brands, products, packages or advertisements in any movies or television shows or other public entertainment media.

Read the Smoking in Film Case Study.

Tobacco Settlement Agreements

In 1998, the nation's leading cigarette manufacturers, including Philip Morris USA, entered into the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the attorneys general of 46 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. Prior to entering into the MSA, PM USA and several other cigarette companies already had reached similar agreements with Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi and Texas. These agreements are collectively referred to as the tobacco settlement agreements.

These agreements fundamentally changed how companies advertise, market and sell tobacco products in the United States. They include a variety of restrictions on the sale and marketing of cigarettes, including prohibiting:

  • use of cartoons in advertising, promotion, packaging or labeling of tobacco products;
  • most outdoor advertising, including billboards and stadium ads;
  • most transit ads;
  • paid product placement;
  • certain brand-name sponsorships; and
  • distribution of merchandise with cigarette brand names and logos.
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