Chapter 10

Pulling the Plug on Tobacco Marketing and Corporate Philanthropy

To maximize profits, the tobacco industry invests billions of dollars yearly around the globe on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) to aggressively promote its deadly products and the social acceptability of tobacco use. A wide range of TAPS strategies are employed to directly and indirectly make tobacco products attractive and pervasive, targeting not only potential tobacco users (i.e. youth, who are highly receptive to tobacco marketing) and current and former tobacco users, but also policy makers and the public, so as to artificially create the impression that tobacco use is normal and non-harmful or that the tobacco industry is a socially responsible corporate sector.

Map: Tobacco advertising at point-of-sale in ASEAN

Therefore, Parties to the WHO FCTC “recognize that a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship would reduce the consumption of tobacco products” (Article 13) because an effective TAPS ban can reduce the appeal of tobacco use (out of sight, out of mind), thereby helping prevent youth uptake, discouraging tobacco use, and preventing ex-users from relapsing. To be effective, a TAPS ban must be comprehensive and cover all forms of TAPS. Partial bans are ineffective because the tobacco industry will maximize TAPS forms that are not banned (e.g. banning mass media TAPS but allowing TAPS at points of sale (POS) or on the Internet, or allowing CSR activities by the tobacco industry). Globally, an increasing number of countries (37 countries in 2016) have reported having adopted a comprehensive ban of all TAPS.

All ASEAN countries are implementing a TAPS ban, but most are partial bans, with Indonesia having the weakest TAPS restrictions in the region. In addition to a ban on direct advertising in most ASEAN countries, Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand also ban the display of tobacco packs at POS to reduce the visibility of tobacco products. These three countries also require licenses for tobacco retailers to facilitate regulatory compliance. Only two ASEAN countries (Lao PDR and Thailand) currently ban CSR activities by the tobacco industry, while only the publicity of tobacco industry CSR is prohibited in Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. In Brunei, there are no tobacco companies operating since May 2014, and therefore no tobacco-related CSR activities.

As this chapter illustrates, more still needs to be done to achieve a comprehensive TAPS ban across the ASEAN region, noting that the industry will continue to find innovative ways and constantly evolve its marketing tactics to promote and market its products, such as through creative package designs, new product flavors, new media, and cross-border advertising.

Status of ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in ASEAN

Tobacco marketing channels

On billboards

Outdoor tobacco advertising billboards can be found in Indonesia*.

*The outdoor advertisement falls under the Local Government Regulation. In 2017, about 11 cities/districts that have implemented TAP Ban Regulation including Jakarta, Bogor, Bekasi, Payakumbuh, Padangpanjang, Sawahlunto, Pariaman, Padang, Klungkung, Jembrana and Gianyar.

Person-to-person sale

Tobacco industry recruits pretty young girls as promoters to sell cigarettes.


Brunei, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

No Ban

Indonesia, Philippines

Ban TAPS via internet in ASEAN


Cambodia (2015), Malaysia (2004), Singapore (1993), Indonesia (2012*), Myanmar (2006), Thailand (2017), Lao PDR (2010), Philippines (2008), Vietnam (2013)

No Ban


*Advertising in information technology media shall comply with the provisions of the tobacco products trademark website which applies age verification to restrict access only to persons aged 18 or older.

Best practice: Brunei, Singapore and Thailand set the benchmark

Thailand, the first country in ASEAN region to implement a complete ban on retail display of tobacco products at point-of-sale, effective on 25 September 2005.

Brunei has banned point-of-sale displays in 2010 as prohibition on advertisements relating to smoking and displaying the cigarette packs was considered as one mode of advertisement.

Singapore has enforced a ban on displaying cigarette packs at point-of-sale by 1 August, 2017 to reduce the exposure of non-smokers, especially among the young, to the advertising effect of tobacco product displays as well as encourages current smokers attempting to quit by minimising impulse purchases of tobacco products.

Progress in curbing tobacco industry CSR activities in ASEAN

Lao PDRMyanmarThailandCambodiaIndonesiaSingaporeVietnam

Ban on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities

All tobacco-related CSR activities are now banned in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand. The publicity of such CSR activities is banned in Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.


Philippines: Ban on donations to schools

The Philippine Department of Education issued a Department Order No. 6/2012, restricting interaction of officials with the tobacco industry; this includes a prohibition on the tobacco industry contributing funds to schools and school officials.

In 2016 the Department of Education issued Department Order No. 48 s. 2016: Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control, which prescribes rules on how parents, teachers, and school officials of private and public schools can facilitate enforcement of the ban on sponsorships, including so-called CSR of the tobacco industry, and on selling and advertising tobacco within a 100-meter perimeter of schools.


Indonesia: Minister of Education and Culture Regulation No. 64/2015 Tobacco-Free School Premises

Minister of Education and Culture Regulation No. 64/2015 Tobacco-Free School Premises states, “Reject any offer of advertisement, promotion, sponsorship, and/or collaboration in any form with tobacco manufacturers and/or any organization that uses trademark, logo, slogan, and/or colour associated with the specific characteristics of tobacco industry to support curricular or extracurricular activities inside and outside school premises.” This effectively bans the tobacco industry from conducting anti-smoking programme in schools.

Don't Be Fooled
By Tobacco Industry

ISO 26000

“Responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour that contributes to sustainable development, health and the welfare of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and is integrated throughout the organization and practiced in its relationships.”

TI related ‘CSR’ is not compatible and failed the standard because of how it violates the FCTC and other widely accepted international standards and rules.

For more detailed information, please visit and refer to SEATCA Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) Index: Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 13 in ASEAN Countries (2016) and Hijacking ‘Sustainability’ from the SDGs: Review of Tobacco Related CSR activities in the ASEAN Region (2017)