Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts


Bagin, Don


Tobacco industry--Public relations


Public Relations and Advertising


This study compared public perception of tobacco industry public relations campaigns of today and yesteryear. Little study has been devoted to the public's changing perception of tobacco public relations since the Master Settlement Agreement changed tobacco public relations efforts in 1998.

Written history of tobacco industry public relations served as the base of determining perception of yesteryear. Surveying 281 undergraduate Rowan University students determined today's public perception of tobacco industry public relations.

Significant survey findings include:

  • 80 percent felt the tobacco industry is not honest about the products it sells
  • Half said the tobacco industry should not run its own anti-smoking television advertisements
  • Almost half said smoking should still be allowed to be shown on television and in movies
  • About two-thirds responded that they felt "neutrally" toward the tobacco industry's practice of public relations
  • Over half believed minors are the main target audience of tobacco advertising

Over the years, the public has become increasingly aware of the tobacco industry's public relations efforts. However, this study found that current perceptions are contradictory. Students feel the tobacco industry's public relations efforts are deceptive, yet they do not feel overwhelmingly negative toward the industry or its public relations practices.