The UK advertising authority has banned the British American Tobacco Company from using Instagram 'influencer' marketing for advertising E-cigarettes. ASA has ordered the company to remove all its e-cigarette ads on the social platform that were the object of the investigation, according to a press release by Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the complainants against the tobacco producer.
“The ASA’s ruling is a huge step forward in preventing tobacco companies from using social media to advertise to young people in the UK and around the world. While the ASA ruling is great news, urgent policy change is needed from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to prevent BAT and other tobacco companies from using social media to advertise their harmful products to young people around the world,” said Mark Hurley, director of international communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
According to UK regulations, promoting e-cigarettes is forbidden, but manufacturers are allowed to provide information about their products, including name, price and contents of the product, and only on their own websites. ASA said in its ruling that BAT’s use of social media accounts in promoting its vape products is considered a breach of that regulation.
“This is a major step forward in stopping the tobacco industry from promoting its new addictive products to children and teenagers. But given that cigarette sales are falling and tobacco companies are desperate to recruit young people into using these new products, ongoing vigilance is essential,” said Professor Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath.
Earlier in April, a number of leading health organizations in the UK led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids together filed an official complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Authority against the British American Tobacco Company regarding its “contravention of UK advertising regulations”.
The Tobacco-Free Kids group said that they, along with over 125 international organizations, have urged social media platforms to “prohibit influencer marketing of tobacco”, but to date the platforms have not made changes to their policies on marketing tobacco.