Objective-To describe the nature and extent of tobacco company sponsorship
in the USA during the period 1995-99 and analyse this sponsorship in a mark
Design-A cross-sectional study of tobacco company sponsorships identified t
hrough a customised research report from IEG Inc, and from internet web sit
Methods-First, a customised report was received from IEG Inc, which identif
ied sponsorship activities for Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williams
on, Lorillard, and US Tobacco for the years 1997 and 1998. Second, the inte
rnet was systematically searched for tobacco industry sponsorships during t
he period 1995-99 by the same parent companies and their respective brands.
Results-During the period 1995-99, tobacco companies sponsored at least 273
3 events, programmes, and organisations in the USA. Sponsorships involved a
ll 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the minimum total funding am
ount of these sponsorships was $365.4 million. Tobacco corporate sponsorshi
ps involved numerous small, community based organisations, both through dir
ect funding and through grants to larger umbrella organisations, and many o
f these organisations were part of the public health infrastructure.
Conclusions-Tobacco corporate sponsorship serves as an important marketing
tool for tobacco companies, serving both a sales promotion and public relat
ions function. Public health practitioners need to develop better surveilla
nce systems for monitoring tobacco sponsorship, to seek out alternative fun
ding sources for tobacco company sponsored events and organisations, and to
consider promoting a ban on tobacco sponsorship, possibly linking such reg
ulation to the creation of alternative funding sources.