Should tobacco giant Philip Morris’s campaign ‘Hold My Light’ be banned?

Should tobacco giant Philip Morris’s campaign ‘Hold My Light’ be banned?

Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, has launched a new campaign to encourage smokers to give up cigarettes. The ‘Hold My Light' campaign aims to persuade smokers to go smoke-free by encouraging their friends and family to offer rewards in the first 30 days of quitting.

This campaign suggests four different ways to give up cigarettes, these include going cold turkey, using nicotine patches, vaping and using heated tobacco products. Strangely all tobacco based products sold by tobacco giant Philip Morris.

The estimated £2m campaign is running across digital and print media and has its own website,, which suggest ways to support those who want to quit such as cooking dinner and links to the tobacco based products sold by Philip Morris.

The Big Idea

Hold My Light is apparently part of the company’s new strategy to encourage the world to go “smoke-free” and to achieve its aim to “ultimately stop selling cigarettes”. However, this video makes for uncomfortable viewing...

What They Did

In recent weeks, Philip Morris International, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro, was back on the advertising schedules with a wraparound in the Daily Mirror. The ad featured its logo and promoted its "Hold my light" campaign to encourage people to put away their cigarette lighters and quit the fags for good with the help of their friends.

Philip Morris launched "Hold my Light" with a campaign website and a film in which a woman navigates a maze of lasers to relinquish her cigarette lighter to a group of friends.

The film was created by Trigger, whilst content is by Other Creative. Biddable media and programmatic video display was handled by Merkle Periscopix and Amplifi, with campaign strategy and some media buying handled in-house.

The Review

What a joke that this campaign has slipped through the nets of the ASA and the government. 

The smoking ban came into effect in 2007, two years after a ban on tobacco advertising was enforced. This itself was 40 years after cigarette advertising was banned on television, thereby ending any misunderstandings over what was and wasn’t permissible, and yet now we see the tobacco giant and its agencies create a slippery campaign disguised as a social purpose and health initiative online, in national print media and across social.

It’s widely recognised that for some time, Philip Morris has stated its desire to make the UK "smoke free". But herein lies the down right hypocrisy, the tobacco giant does have an ulterior motive – it was only a couple of years ago that Philip Morris launched the Iqos brand as a slightly "less bad" alternative to cigarettes. These apparently heat rather than burn the tobacco and is this is now the direction the company sees its business going.

Peter Nixon, managing director of Philip Morris, says: “This campaign breaks new ground, which is an important next step in our company going smoke-free and ultimately to stop selling cigarettes.” 

What a crock of shit!

In Hindsight

Rightly, the campaign has already received criticism, with Cancer Research UK accusing the company of “staggering hypocrisy” and pointing out that Philip Morris still promotes cigarettes in countries that have not banned tobacco and advertising promotion; the very products advertised and being sold on the “campaign” website.

Philip Morris, in its attempt to help people quit the killer weed, deserves nothing but negativity and derision.

It should be banned.

It's a zero out of five from me. 

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