Project: Establishing a mechanism for tobacco control advocacy

Final policy paper

Konstantin Krasovsky
International Policy Fellowship, 2003

The policy analysis of tobacco advertising in Ukraine


The main justification for state regulation of tobacco advertising is the heavy toll exacted upon people’s health by tobacco use, which annually causes about five million deaths worldwide, including more than 110,000 in Ukraine. The magnitude of these deaths justifies taking measures that reduce tobacco consumption, such as a ban on tobacco advertising. The global experience of tackling this problem is summed up in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that was recently approved by the World Health Assembly: "Parties recognize that a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship would reduce the consumption of tobacco products".
Tobacco advertising is also targeted because of the fact that it promotes smoking initiation among children and teenagers.
The Supreme Rada (parliament) of Ukraine three times (in 1992, 1996 and 2001) voted for a ban on tobacco advertising. In 2001, the President of Ukraine was supportive of the ban, but suggested that it be postponed for one year. Unfortunately, the members of parliament have currently demanded that this issue be re-opened for discussion. 
There are four possible options that address the problem of tobacco advertising in Ukraine, which can be designated as: 1) the easing of regulation; 2) the preservation of existing regulation; 3) a toughening of regulation; 4) a complete ban. After analyzing the consequences for each of these options in regards to their acceptability for the various interested parties, the following conclusions have been reached:

·    From the point of view of public health, only a complete ban of tobacco advertising is meaningful, as partial restrictions of advertising do not reduce tobacco consumption. To decrease the consumption of tobacco products, this sort of ban should not just consist of a vague declaration - it needs to cover not only direct but also indirect advertising, and sponsorship as a kind of advertising.

·    From the point of view of advertising businesses, any of the four options offered will result in a redistribution of resources between the advertising companies, but will not affect the total amount of these resources. In order to mitigate the consequences of the ban, it is reasonable to leave a temporary interval between acceptance of the law and its implementation.

·    For mass media any of the offered alternatives can result only in a redistribution of incomes and influences between various kinds of mass media. Changing the regulation of tobacco advertising would not have a noticeable effect, neither upon the total level of their incomes nor upon the level of their independence.

·    The tobacco industry is well aware that advertising promotes the growth of tobacco consumption and tobacco-related disease, and in a free market economy it is not capable of quitting its advertising voluntarily, as advertising brings profits.  Therefore, this situation requires state regulation of tobacco advertising, up to its complete ban.

·    The disappearance of tobacco advertising, which hides the true properties of tobacco products from consumers, will be favourable for consumers, as they can make their choice more consciously than before.
·    Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2002 have revealed that almost half of the population of Ukraine supports a complete tobacco advertising ban, and that a significant part supports the toughening of regulations.

·    A ban on advertising will reduce smoking prevalence, thus allowing public health resources to be used more rationally. From a long-term perspective, a complete ban on tobacco advertising is the best way to increase budget revenues and protect the well-being of the population.

·    A ban on tobacco advertising allows the state to fulfil its constitutional duties of protecting the lives and health of the people, which is of the highest social value. The preservation of tobacco advertising even with its restrictions will result in Ukraine being considered by the international community as a backwards country that does not care about the health of its citizens.

An analysis of the balance of interests shows that the most acceptable option for Ukraine is the combination of toughening regulation and a complete ban on tobacco advertising, which could be called a comprehensive or rational ban. A rational ban on tobacco advertising means that all kinds of direct and indirect advertising are forbidden as well as sponsorship, except for the kinds that are stipulated in the law, such as advertising in special tobacco shops where access to teenagers is forbidden. This sort of rational ban on tobacco advertising will be supported by the majority of the population of Ukraine, will cause a reduction in tobacco-related illnesses and death, and will protect our children from the tobacco epidemic.

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