During the twentieth century, the growth in tobacco consumption took place against the backdrop of the development of the media. The relationship between nicotine marketing in the media and the spread of the tobacco epidemic has been extensively studied in a number of studies. By the beginning of the 21st century, it was understood that the media play a key role in shaping public attitudes towards smoking: they can be used in marketing of cigarettes online.
The promotion of cigarettes online, in the media can be aimed at a short-term effect (changing consumer behavior after a single advertising campaign) and long-term (changing social norms). Accordingly, it affects the behavior of individuals (individual character) or entire groups of the population (social character). Actions can be aimed at changing the existing attitude towards tobacco consumption, or, conversely, to strengthen and stabilize them. For example, research on menthol cigarette advertisements in Maxim, FHM, Cosmopolitan, and Ebony in 2003 and 2004 found that 28% of tobacco advertisements mentioned alcohol, which was associated with stronger associations between smoking and “nightlife”.
Within social groups, the promotion of cigarettes online plays a key role in shaping tobacco-related behavior. The effect of media campaigns can reach the target audience even through secondary channels, when viewers share information with their families and relatives. Depending on the duration of exposure, tobacco advertising is cumulative or non-accumulative. Periodic repetition of advertising on one site has a long, albeit less effect, in each subsequent period. Marketers can use an impulse publishing strategy to achieve the greatest response. Marketing effectiveness also varies by target audience and timing. For example, the sales of cigarettes online peak during the summer months as people tend to smoke more in this period.
Tobacco advocates and fighters influence public opinion not only through direct advertising, but also through news and entertainment content. For example, the tobacco industry may not only display advertising posters in magazines and newspapers, but also exercise editorial control in such publications. This reduces coverage of tobacco-related issues. Media promotion may include news about the tobacco industry, such as public relations or corporate sponsorship, and entertainment portrayal of tobacco and tobacco use.