Taking action on smoking and health
Following complaints by leading public health organisations, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today ruled that British American Tobacco (BAT) must stop using any public Instagram accounts to promote their e-cigarette brand, Vype, in the UK. This ban includes BAT’s use of influencer marketing – which typically features celebrities or social media influencers using Vype in a context likely to appeal to young people – to advertise their e-cigarettes.
Although UK and EU regulations restrict the online advertising of e-cigarettes, manufacturers are allowed to use their own websites to provide factual information about their products such as the name, content and price. However, today’s ruling has clarified that manufacturers’ social media accounts, like @GoVype run by BAT, are not analogous to a website, and therefore, neither factual nor promotional content for e-cigarettes is permitted.
Commenting on the ASA’s ruling, ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said:
“We welcome the ASA’s ruling which will make it more difficult for tobacco companies to use social media to market their health-harming products to young people in Scotland. We have seen countless examples from across the world of tobacco companies targeting young people through social media in an attempt to expand their customer base with significant risks of getting the next generation addicted to nicotine.
“Scotland is committed to regulating domestic e-cigarette advertising like billboards and leaflets but further action is needed if we are to protect children and young people from these predatory commercial interests. In addition to reducing the visibility of e-cigarette advertising here in Scotland, we’d like to see corporations held to account for the way commercial interests push their health-harming products to young people via social media and we call on social media platforms to be more proactive in moderating this content.”
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.