Marketing Practices

Philip Morris USA is guided by Altria Group's Vision, Cultural Aspiration and Code of Conduct. We're committed to marketing our products responsibly by building relationships between adult smokers and our brands while taking steps designed to limit reach to unintended audiences.

We market brands such as Marlboro, L&M, Parliament and Virginia Slims in the United States. We compete to grow our share of the market. This means we want adult smokers to remain loyal to our brands. And we want adult smokers who smoke other brands to switch to ours.

Consumer Communications

We work hard to market our products to adult smokers and to limit the reach of our materials to unintended audiences. We verify that smokers are 21 or older before they receive branded one-to-one communications, enter one of our brand websites or attend consumer engagement programs.

  • One-to-one Communications - We use direct mail and email to support the launch of products, invite adult smokers to consumer engagement programs, announce brand promotions and deliver coupons and other communications. We maintain a secure database of age-verified adult smokers who have elected to hear from us. A person may request to no longer receive communications from us at any time.
  • Consumer Websites - Our age-restricted brand websites enable adult smokers to interact with our brands. We use these sites to build brand equity, deliver news and provide promotional support.
  • Consumer Marketing Activities - We offer consumer engagement programs, to reinforce brand equity.

In 2019, FDA authorized sale of the IQOS heated tobacco system in the U.S. market. PM USA, under an exclusive licensing agreement with Philip Morris International, will commercialize IQOS in the U.S. with three HeatStick variants. We'll use innovative new tools to raise adult smoker awareness of the product, provide education and product trial, and support their transition to IQOS over time. Plans include:

  • digital banner ads and print ads for IQOS in our lead markets
  • IQOS focused stores and mobile units within our lead markets
  • allowing adult smokers to initiate a trial period with IQOS
  • building a consumer engagement and customer care program, including tips on device usage and maintenance, information about where to buy HeatSticks, and encouragement to transition from conventional cigarettes; and
  • leveraging Philip Morris USA's extensive age-verified adult smoker database, Marlboro digital tools and web analytics to identify potential IQOS consumers and communicate with them about IQOS

Determining Magazine Advertising Placement

PM USA does not currently advertise its combustible cigarette brands in consumer magazines and newspapers.

We advertise IQOS and Marlboro HeatSticks in magazines to build brand awareness with adult smokers. When selecting the magazines, we're careful to pick those publications that are predominately read by adults. Where we use print advertising (newspapers, magazines, periodicals or other publications), we are guided by the Food and Drug Administration's proposed definition of the term "adult publication". Under this standard, an adult publication is one:

  • whose readers younger than 18 years of age constitute 15 percent or less of the total readership as measured by competent and reliable survey evidence; and
  • that is read by fewer than two million persons younger than 18 years of age as measured by competent and reliable survey evidence.

If a magazine does not meet these criteria, we won't advertise in it.

Social Media

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life for many people and a powerful channel for companies to stay connected to their consumers. We are committed to keeping our consumers at the center of everything we do. As social media continues to shift how people communicate across the world, we will consider the implications for how we responsibly engage with our adult tobacco consumers. As always, we will be guided by our current marketing practices, including taking steps designed to limit reach to unintended audiences.

As a new-to-market product, IQOS has taken a measured and responsible approach to educate and engage adult smokers and IQOS consumers 21+ via social media. Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) authorization requires IQOS to share all marketing assets with the FDA for review 30 days prior to placement, which includes all marketing assets used on IQOSs social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. IQOS's age-gated (to 21+), branded pages on Instagram and Facebook provide a channel for IQOS to share product awareness, education and customer support. These pages also offer a venue to foster a sense of community and provide positive encouragement among adult IQOS users and smokers 21+ interested in transitioning to IQOS by re-enforcing a message of complete cigarette cessation. IQOS also has a Twitter presence, but as this medium cannot be age-gated, it is used strictly for customer care should an adult IQOS consumer have a question about the product. As new communication channels continue to shift how people communicate with brands and companies, we will consider the implications for how we responsibly engage with our adult tobacco consumers. As always, we will be guided by our current marketing practices, including taking steps designed to limit reach to unintended audiences.

Trade Programs

We offer trade programs to retailers and wholesalers that help them responsibly manage the cigarette category. Our retail trade program is built on effective category management principles, including:

  • merchandising our products in an organized way;
  • having our brands in-stock and available;
  • having our most popular brands in preferred positions;
  • clearly communicating price and promotional offers; and
  • deterring access by underage purchasers.

The program also includes features to help prevent underage access to tobacco products that are not required by federal law, including store clerk training and access prevention signage. In addition, we've developed rigorous compliance and training systems to govern marketing material production.

We offer additional financial incentives to retailers who refrain from placing any cigarettes, cigarette signs or brand imagery associated with cigarettes on top of or below the front of the selling counter. We also limit the location, size and amount of PM USA interior and exterior signs at retail.

Age Verification

We limit access to our brand websites to smokers 21 years of age or older. We require consumers to confirm that they are adults and meet the website’s minimum age requirement. In order to purchase product on an owned e-commerce site, or to access branded marketing materials on our websites, consumers must meet  this requirement, either through face-to-face examination of their valid government-issued ID or through our electronic age-verification process.

Electronic age verification works by comparing personal information an individual provides against public-records databases and other third-party data sources to find matching records that independently verify the personal information and confirms that the individual is old enough to access the website. If the individual’s age cannot be verified, then they are denied access to the branded marketing portions of our tobacco brand websites, and such consumer cannot purchase products on our e-commerce websites.

To further prevent underage persons from accessing our brand our sites are compatible with age-filtering software. Such software can be used to block access to websites considered unsuitable for children.

Marketing Restrictions

Cigarette marketing and sales are regulated at the federal, state and local level.

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Product Placement Requests

We’ve had a policy since 1990 to deny all requests for permission to use or display our brands in any movies, television shows, video games or other public entertainment media.

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