Tobacco advertising to almost completely disappear in Germany

Tobacco advertising to almost completely disappear in Germany

After years of discussion, it’s finally official: from 2021, advertising for tobacco and cigarettes will almost completely disappear from Germany. A ban on advertising for e-cigarettes will follow. 

No more tobacco adverts on billboards and in cinemas in Germany

In future, tobacco companies will only be allowed to advertise their products in Germany in very limited, exceptional cases. At the end of last week the Bundestag passed a law that prohibits the outdoor advertising of tobacco products, for example in the form of posters or billboards. Such advertising may in future only be shown in tobacco shops. 

The law also prohibits advertisements for smoking in cinemas if the respective film is approved for younger audiences. Specialist shops will also no longer be allowed to distribute free samples of tobacco products.

The new regulation on cinema advertising will come into force at the end of the year. The restrictions on outdoor advertising are to be gradually implemented - applying to tobacco products from January 1, 2022, to heated tobacco products from January 1, 2023, and to electronic cigarettes from January 1, 2024. 

“With the ban on tobacco advertising, we are finally directly on target,” said the federal government’s drug commissioner, Daniela Ludwig.

Tobacco industry critical of the ban

The tobacco industry, however, has criticised the law, referring to the different health risks posed by conventional cigarettes on the one hand and less harmful heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes on the other. 

Claudia Oeking, Managing Director of the international tobacco country Philip Morris, said that “education” about new products should be possible in order to encourage smokers to switch to products that contain less harmful substances. 

The tobacco industry currently spends around 100 million euros a year on cinema and outdoor advertising in Germany. Some of this income went to municipalities - for example, for billboard advertising at bus stops. This income will now be lost. 

The first attempt to pass a law like this failed four years ago. In 2016, the cabinet approved the plans of the former Minister for Nutrition, but they were never passed in the Bundestag. At the end of last year, the CDU / CSU alliance cleared the way for a second attempt, after doctors in Germany joined the growing number of voices calling for a ban



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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