Tobacco Marketing

2016 Book of Resolutions, #4021

As people of faith in the living God, we are reminded that Jesus spoke out for justice for the poor, the disenfranchised and the powerless and called us to love one another. The Bible reminds us that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19; also see vv. 13-20) and since we are created in God’s own image, we are then called by God to perfect our bodies in God’s image. Moreover, we are called by God to ensure that all of God’s creation has access to the knowledge of God’s love and God’s concern for our well-being and welfare. Through our historic Wesleyan heritage and by John Wesley’s words, we are reminded as United Methodists that “the world is our parish,” and we are called to minister in and throughout the whole world.

The United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations have a long history of witness against the use and marketing of tobacco products. There is overwhelming evidence linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and related illnesses. Alarming statistics point to the impact of tobacco companies and their marketing practices to entice people to smoke. The World Health Organization in its 2009 Report on Tobacco says tobacco use already kills 5.4 million people a year across the globe and the epidemic is worsening, especially in the developing world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will occur in the coming decades. “Unless urgent action is taken, one billion people will die worldwide from tobacco use this century,” the report states. “Tobacco use is so devastating to the human body that it is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of death in the world.”

We are outraged by the use of marketing techniques aimed at young people (children, youths, and young adults) worldwide and legal mechanisms used by leading cigarette manufacturers to loosen regulations and reverse laws enacted by countries and US states to restrict tobacco marketing. These practices are in direct conflict with the global tobacco treaty, The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which outlines the most effective policy in controlling tobacco in the interest of public health. The primary US companies who have used deceptive marketing strategies aimed at young people are Altria/Philip Morris, which sells Marlboro cigarettes, and RJR Nabisco, which sells Camel cigarettes.

Therefore, as people of faith who believe our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:13-20), we:

  1. direct the General Board of Church and Society to collect and share information about Altria/Philip Morris, RJR Nabisco, and other major tobacco companies so that United Methodists are made aware of other products that provide indirect support of the tobacco industry and financial strategies the tobacco industry implements that unduly influence governments, elected officials, and community leaders.

  2. commend the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits for its long-standing exclusion of tobacco manufacturers from its investment portfolio and ask it to challenge public media in its portfolio not to carry advertisements and promotion of tobacco products;

  3. ask all United Methodist agencies and related institutions to take into account the church’s Social Principles and tobacco concerns and, specifically, to consider the role of Altria/Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco in tobacco marketing as a factor in any decision concerning purchasing food products manufactured by them;

  4. request the United Methodist general agencies to communicate, interpret, and advocate for this concern with their affiliated institutions;

  5. ask local churches and annual conferences to educate their membership about the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics aimed at young people. It is equally important we understand the connection between our purchasing food products and our indirect support of the tobacco industry;

  6. request the General Board of Church and Society to explore productive measures aimed at stopping tobacco companies from marketing cigarettes and other tobacco products to young people and, if necessary, organize a boycott; and

  7. direct the General Board of Church and Society to communicate this resolution to tobacco companies, serve as a continuing advocate of the United Methodist position within The United Methodist Church and with the companies, and monitor the implementation of this resolution for report at the next General Conference.


See Social Principles, ¶ 163D.

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