End Marlboro’s Youth-Targeted Campaign

Target: World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan

Goal: Stop Philip Morris International from marketing cigarettes to kids.

The Philip Morris International company has been targeting young people with its “Be Marlboro” campaign. The campaign aims to sell cigarettes to young people by featuring ads that compare smoking to a life of glamour with the slogan “Don’t be a Maybe. Be Marlboro.” Cigarettes cause millions of deaths per year worldwide, and impressionable youth should not be exposed to them. Demand that the Philip Morris International company end this campaign and stop leading kids down the road of addiction.

It is currently illegal in the U.S. to market tobacco to minors, but that does not prevent Philip Morris from targeting youth in low- and middle-income countries. Without these regulations, the ads can be displayed anywhere, including billboards and places that attract teens. They appeal to the kids’ rebellious spirit and desire for action, depicting attractive young people partying, rocking out, snowboarding, and even falling in love. This is a low and unethical tactic to boost cigarette sales, considering that 80,000 to 100,000 young people become addicted to tobacco daily. Children around the globe do not need to have their futures cut short because a tobacco company wants to make a profit; make Philip Morris end its “Be Marlboro” campaign.


Dear Director-General Chan,

As the head of an organization devoted to ensuring the health of the world, it is important for you to know that the Philip Morris International company is marketing cigarettes to minors. The company has started a campaign called “Be Marlboro,” which associates smoking with living life to the fullest. Cigarettes would do the exact opposite for these children, cutting their life short with lung disease and cancer. Please use your position of authority to end this harmful campaign.

This campaign has spread to over 50 countries, mostly low- and middle-income countries that do not have as strict tobacco regulations as the United States has. There is no question that the campaign targets youth; the ads are placed in popular teen meet-up places, and they depict attractive young people living life on the edge, engaging in adventuresome activities. The slogan — “Don’t be a Maybe. Be Marlboro” — pressures young people into smoking in order to have an interesting life.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, killing millions every year around the world. The key word there is “preventable” — if we fight to end this campaign, we can help prevent tens of thousands of teens from leading a life of addiction.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Valentin Ottone

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  1. Robert Ortiz says:

    The last we need is big tobacco recruiting a new generation of people to engage in unhealthy and life threatening behaviors. Campaigns like this need to be stopped and outlawed altogether.


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