Banning Outdoor Advertisement of Tobacco Near Schools and Playgrounds
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Banning Outdoor Advertisement of Tobacco Near Schools and Playgrounds
Evidence from the National Cancer Institute shows that there is a causal relationship between the advertisement of tobacco products and adolescent smoking initiation, which can result in long-term addiction and serious health consequences. Past studies on tobacco addiction show that children and adolescences are highly vulnerable to advertisements. From marketing theory perspective, there are several ways through which promotions and advertisements can be used to increase young adults’ demand for tobacco (Golechha, 2016). Further, marketing efforts have continuously portrayed smoking as a normal and socially acceptable behavior among adults. Despite tobacco advertisements being banned on televisions, radios, transit ads, and billboards, young adults are still exposed to tobacco advertisements at the point of sale (Luke, Ribsil, Smith, & Song, 2011, p. 295). In this regard, a policy on banning of outdoor advertisement of tobacco products in stores, particularly cigarette displays, can reduce the likelihood of adolescents being influenced to become smokers. This paper aims at examining the effectiveness of the banning of outdoor advertisements of tobacco near schools and playgrounds in decreasing tobacco products’ harm and addictiveness, and encouraging cessation from the use of tobacco products.
In this paper, I will discuss the policy of banning of outdoor advertisement of tobacco near schools and playgrounds. Advertisement of tobacco is one of the leading ways through which tobacco product manufacturers are able to recruit new smokers and retain their current customers. According to Luke, Ribisl, Smith, and Song (2011, p. 295), 85% of youths say that they have been exposed to point-of-sale advertisements. Given the potential harm of the promotion of tobacco products’ advertisements to potential and former smokers, this regulation is essential in the fight against tobacco use.
Tobacco companies target young adults through advertisements, which make them start or continue smoking. Lange, Hoefges, and Ribisl (2017) note that almost all first use of cigarettes occurs before the age of 18. The researchers also opine that adolescent smokers always have an increased risk of becoming addicts, which can have detrimental impacts on their social, financial, health status. Despite considerable efforts to reduce tobacco use in the United States, it has been established that 7.7% of smokers are in middle school and 24.6% are in high school Further, Lang et al. (2017) also observed that 88% of smokers started smoking before they were 18 years. As a public health issue, the regulation on the outdoor advertisement of tobacco is essential for ensuring that individuals are not initiated into smoking.
On June 22, 2009, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law by President Barak Obama (Kasza, 2011). This law gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) board the authority of regulating the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution process of tobacco and tobacco products. Legally, tobacco products refer to items that are extracted from tobacco for human consumption, which also includes any component or part of tobacco. Through this law, the FDA was granted authority to control cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco (Ashley & Backinger, 2012). In this regard, the FDA has enhanced authority of regulating tobacco products depending on their effects on the country’s public health needs.
Consistent with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA has a policy on outdoor advertisements of tobacco and tobacco products, and particularly on the advertisements at various distances from schools and parks (Lange et al., 2017). When issuing rules regulating the advertisements at various distances, the FDA is obliged to consider past legal rulings on tobacco advertisements and the interests of various players, including those of the sellers of tobacco products. Although there has been a significant decline in the number of tobacco smokers across the country, the current smoking rates have remained unchanged for a long time. At this rate, about 5.6 million American youth below 18 years may die prematurely from smoking-related illness (Lange et al., 2017). Due to the inadequacies of the current cessation programs in preventing tobacco initiation and addiction among the youth, there is a need to control the promotion of tobacco products.
Despite the need of restricting youth exposure to point-of-sale advertisements of tobacco products, two major challenges prevent its effective implementation. Firstly, there First Amendment laws protect commercial speech from government regulations. In particular, this law requires substantial evidence to justify the restriction of truthful and non-misleading advertisements of lawful products, even those that may be harmful such as tobacco. Secondly, there are various legal challenges due to preemption laws. In particular, The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 (FCLAA) has a preemption provision that restrains states regulation on cigarette advertising and promotion due to health and smoking reasons (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2018). Although the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) amended the FCLAA and exempted it from the general rules of preemption based on smoking and health, the restrictions based on content were still retained. Additionally, there is a preemption provision in the 1986 Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act (CSTHEA), which prohibit state and local laws that require warning statements on smokeless tobacco products advertisements. Finally, the conflict preemption of federal law restricts the application of state and local laws in the regulation of tobacco advertisements (Lang et al., 2017). In this regard, states must consider all federal preemptions, FCLAA, CSTHEA, and conflict preemption, when regulating the sale of tobacco products in addition to their state-level preemptions.
One of the regulations implemented to restrict tobacco advertisements in the United States is the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. This regulation placed some modest restrictions on how tobacco is marketed, such as the banning of advertisements in billboards that are larger than 14 square feet. There was also a ban on print advertisement in magazines that had a large youth audience (Kasza et al., 2011). Another regulation on advertisements of tobacco products came through 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Lang et al., 2017). One of the major strengths of this law is that it corrected some of the weaknesses that were in previous regulations on the sale of tobacco. Additionally, it increased the scope of the FDA in regulating tobacco. In the establishment of various policies on the control of advertisements of tobacco products, the FDA has a duty of examining the interests of various stakeholders, who include retailers, sellers, customers, state and federal governments, schools, and healthcare providers.
Basing the proposed regulation on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the policy being discussed in this paper is one of banning of outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground. An alternative to this policy is the reduction of the size of tobacco adverts in New York City, which is based on the Master Settlement Agreement. The Master Settlement Agreement is essential in the prohibition of tobacco advertisements in television, billboards, transit ads, and radio. In the Master Settlement Agreement (1998), manufacturers of tobacco products are prohibited from placing billboards that are larger than 14 square feet (Jones & Silvestri, 2010). There is also a ban on print advertisement in magazines that are popular among the youth. In this regard, the Master Settlement Agreement plays an essential role in minimizing children exposure to tobacco and tobacco products. Studies have shown that even brief exposure to tobacco advertisements can influence adolescents’ attitudes and perceptions about tobacco products. Therefore, the placement of restrictions on tobacco advertisements can limit the extent that children and adolescents are exposed, which has the advantage of reducing youth initiation in the use of these products.
One major challenge in the establishment of restrictions on tobacco use is the need for protecting both the interest of the public and manufacturers of tobacco products. Accordingly, the criteria for selecting the best alternative should be based on research findings and should follow a rational approach. The policy on tobacco control should also be structured on a tiered method, such as restricting all tobacco adverts within a 150 feet radius of a retail establishment or restricting the size of all tobacco adverts. Lastly, policies on tobacco products control should comply with the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA) (CDC, 2018).
Based on the regulations on tobacco advertisements, the best policy is the banning outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground, which follows the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This policy addresses the weaknesses of the Master Settlement Agreement with regards to accessibility. The reduction of the size of an advert does not make it inaccessible, which is a major weakness of the Master Settlement Agreement. However, the restriction of where the advert is placed, which is done in the policy of the banning outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground ensures that tobacco products’ adverts are not readily accessible to children and adolescents. Consequently, this policy has higher potential in improving public health by minimizing the number of youth who can be influenced by adverts to become smokers.
In spite of the many potential advantages of the banning outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground policy over the Master Settlement Agreement, it can face much criticism from the sellers of tobacco products. The enhanced restriction of where advertisements are placed has the potential of limiting the number of individuals purchasing tobacco products since they will not be easily accessible. Given the damaging effects of tobacco on both consumers and the public, this trade-off is acceptable.
Currently, there is a high number of tobacco products’ consumers in the country. Despite efforts to restrict the advertisements of tobacco, the current policies seem insufficient since, for a long time, the number of smokers in the country has not declined. In this regard, the banning outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground, which follows the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act can minimize access and influence of advertisements. Advertisements of tobacco products near schools and playgrounds have the potential of influencing children and adolescents to start using tobacco. In particular, advertisements portray smoking as normal and socially acceptable behavior, which influences the youth to try tobacco products (Lange, Hoefges, & Ribsil, 2017). Adolescents are usually at high risk of becoming addicts since their brains are still developing. Additionally, accessible advertisements can make former smokers to relapse, making it harder for smokers to quit. In this regard, this policy will improve public health by ensuring that few youths start smoking and former smokers do not relapse.
Strategies for Implementing the Policy
The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires the FDA to consider the interest of all stakeholders when implementing any policy on the control of the use of tobacco products. Given this requirement, I will first conduct a GIS spatial analysis of New York City to know the proximity of most retailers to schools and playgrounds. This information will enable me to draft the policy while ensuring that it would not result in the total suspension of all tobacco adverts in the country. Having established the draft policy, I will invite all stakeholders so that they can give their contributions. I will then use their views to enhance my draft policy. Finally, I would present the revised policy for approval and implementation. The main challenge in the implementation of the alternative policy is its insufficiency in minimizing the exposure of children and adolescents to tobacco. Therefore, there would be no need of implementing this regulation.
From this analysis, the banning of outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground, will ensure that fewer children and adolescence start to use tobacco products. In particular, the lack of advertisements near schools and playground will minimize the cases of adolescents being influenced to begin using tobacco products. Another benefit of this policy is that it will also reduce the chances of former smokers being influenced to smoke again. Accordingly, the policy will improve the public health of New Yorkers since it will lead to a reduction in tobacco-related ailments. The main limitation of this analysis is that it does not consider the financial cost of retailers and growers of tobacco products.
Besides minimizing the cases of tobacco-related ailments, the policy will have significant implications for nursing practice, education, research, and policymaking. In nursing practice, the will be a reduction of tobacco-related ailments due to the decrease in the use of tobacco. There will also be a reduction of students’ dependency on tobacco, which will have a positive impact on their education. Researchers will also have the opportunity of learning whether the minimization of exposure to advertisements of tobacco products can result in a decline in their use. Finally, policy-makers will learn on the most effective ways of minimizing children and adolescent exposure to tobacco.
Overall, the banning outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground will result in a reduction of the cases of children and adolescent of tobacco products. This reduction is due to a decrease in their exposure, which can influence adolescents to start and to continue smoking. Studies show that there is a high likelihood of long-term addiction among adolescents, these individuals can incur substantial personal, financial, and social costs due to tobacco-related ailments. Additionally, the reduced presence of advertisements following the implementation of this policy can ensure that current and former smokers are not exposed to tobacco products, which can encourage cessation and minimize the cases of relapse in the latter.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2018). Smoking and tobacco use. Legislation: Selected actions of the U.S. government regarding the regulation of tobacco sales, marketing, and use. Retrieved from
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Jones, W., & Silvestri, G. (2010). The master settlement agreement and its impact on tobacco use 10 years later. Chest, 137(3), pp. 692-700.
Kasza, K., Hyland, A., Brown, A., Siahpush, M., Yong, H., McNeill, A., Li, L., & Cummings, M. (2011). The effectiveness of tobacco marketing regulations on reducing smokers’ exposure to advertising and promotion: Findings from the international tobacco control (ITC) four country survey. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 8(2), 321-340.
Lange, T., Hoefges, M., & Ribsil, K. (2015).  Regulating tobacco product advertising and promotions in the retail environment: A roadmap for states and localities. J Law Med Ethics, 43(4), 878-896.
Luke, D., Ribisl, K., Smith, C., & Sorg, A. (2011). Family smoking prevention and tobacco control act: Banning outdoor tobacco advertising near schools and playgrounds. Am J Prev Med, 40(3), 295-302.

Policy Effectiveness Accept/Reject
Banning of outdoor advertisement of tobacco over a 1000 feet radius from a school or a playground. This policy can prevent students from being influenced into using tobacco products by minimizing the accessibility of tobacco-related adverts. Accept
Reducing the size of tobacco adverts This policy is ineffective since children and adolescents will continue seeing tobacco adverts, although they will be in smaller pictures. Reject