Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have announced that beginning “in the coming weeks,” in Instagram’s case, and starting next year in Facebook’s case, the promotion of vapor products on the respective services will be banned. This comes after a ruling by the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority which ordered British American Tobacco to cease advertisement or promotion of its products on Instagram and other social media platforms.
The decision was announced Wednesday. In its announcement, Instagram stated that, in line with its new policy, “branded content that promotes goods such as vaping, tobacco products and weapons will not be allowed.” Both Instagram’s and Facebook’s bans will be effective worldwide, and expand existing bans on advertising of vapor products to now include promotion by celebrities and influencers, who are allegedly paid by vapor and tobacco brands simply to appear in photos holding or using the brands’ products.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew Myers praised the new policy, saying:
“With the right policy, Facebook and Instagram are uniquely positioned to cut off Big Tobacco’s easiest access point to kids and young people around the world,” he said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. “Updates to Facebook and Instagram policies on influencer marketing are desperately needed.”
Further, British American Tobacco has been ordered to remove all advertising for its Vype brand of e-cigarette from Instagram. Although it’s illegal to advertise vapor products in the United Kingdom, according to News On 6, vapor and tobacco products makers are permitted to share basic information about their products on their own sites, such as the products’ names, content, and prices. British American Tobacco is now barred from using social media to distribute that information.
Three other vapor products manufacturers were also directly named in the new policy: Ama Vapes, Attitude Vapes, and Global Vaping Group.
According to Mark Hurley, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Director of International Communications:
“[ASA’s] ruling is a huge step forward in preventing tobacco companies from using social media to advertise to young people in the U.K. and around the world.”
This move will leave only anti-vaping groups to continue to promote vaping to minors — however unintentionally so — by making the act of vaping equivalent to an act of rebellion against authority figures.