To the Editor.
—Companies try to influence consumers by advertising and by product differentiation. In a recent article, Gostin and Brandt1 present a case for banning all cigarette ads to eliminate this prosmoking influence.Allowing advertising conveys social approval of smoking. However, the precise way advertising affects cigarette consumption is controversial. Individuals may be led to begin smoking by the example of family members, by peer pressure, and/or by advertising.2 Does advertising induce people to smoke who would not otherwise do so or does it mainly shift consumption among people who have already decided to smoke? If the former, a total cigarette ad ban will reduce aggregate demand. If the latter, a total ad ban will not reduce demand. Instead, it will add billions of dollars to cigarette company profits from foregone ad spending and probably allow companies to reduce cigarette prices and add more new product lines,
Simonich WL. Banning Tobacco Advertising: Boon to the Industry?. JAMA. 1993;270(3):321-322. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510030045023