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.

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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