The cause of the distress is a legal loophole that will allow tobacco marketers to keep using cigarette brand names to advertise other products even after this country's total ad ban takes effect July 1.
The Swedish tobacco industry spent $4.8 million last year to advertise cigarettes in magazines and newspapers, the only traditional media still permitted to carry tobacco ads until next month.
But anti-tobacco groups aren't calling it a complete victory. Greta Weding, spokeswoman for anti-tobacco group A Non Smoking Generation, Stockholm, said cigarette companies will still be able to advertise by marketing other products under the same brand names as their cigarettes.
The Swedish Tobacco Co., for example, whose brands control about 82% of the cigarette market, is promoting sunglasses and cigarette lighters under the same name as its leading Blend brand in newspaper and magazine ads, created by Reklamfunktion. Blend cigarettes are handled by the same ad agency.
"We are worried that the company may soon be selling clothes under the same brand," Ms. Weding said.
A spokesman for Swedish Tobacco said the marketing of sunglasses has nothing to do with its cigarettes, adding that the company expanded into other consumer products because it has Sweden's largest consumer sales force. The company introduced sunglasses about 18 months ago because it's a big market, he said, but he declined to comment on plans to market clothes.
Responding to the anti-tobacco group's charges that the company was trying to skip the ban, he said, "I don't think they know much about our marketing activities."
Ms. Weding's group is using advertising to publicize the loophole, working with four volunteer Stockholm shops: Dromfabriken; OCH; Forsman & Bodenfors; and Garbergs, all Stockholm.
The print campaign, built around the slogan "Crucify the tobacco companies" and illustrated with a cigarette representing a crucifix, broke June 6 and will run through the summer in space donated by 11 national and regional newspapers.
The group is hoping Sweden may follow France in cracking down on marketing other products under the name of well-known cigarette brands. Following a French ban on tobacco advertising phased in starting in 1992, Rothmans International Tobacco and Philip Morris International began marketing and advertising, for example, Peter Stuyvesant travel services and Marlboro clothes.
The French government then extended its law to ban the use of cigarette brand names for other unrelated products and services.
Bruce Crumley contributed to this story.