It has been revealed that four of the leading vaping companies in the world including the famous BAT (British American Tobacco) had their post on Instagram promoting e-cigarettes banned by the leading advertising regulatory agency, the American Standard Authority (ASA).
The post in question has a picture of celebrities as well as models, including Lily Allen holding these e-cigarettes. According to the ASA, this type of post has been banned.
Groups Against the Post Speak out
While some groups have come out to challenge the decision of the ASA, others have applauded this move and have heaped praise on the ASA. These groups have described this ban as a step in the right direction. One of the groups to come out is the Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign, and while speaking to newscasters, they remarked that the ruling of the ASA is a piece of exciting news. They went further to reveal that urgent policies are needed from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook if they are to prevent e-cigarette companies like BAT from making use of their social media platforms to advertise their damaging products to unsuspecting underage users.
This complaint filed was also backed by a couple of other UK anti-smoking groups, and a few of these groups include STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations Product) and ASH (Smoking and Health).
Content of Complaint File and BAT's Defense
The vaping companies, according to the complaint filed were accused of promoting e-cigarettes containing nicotine as well as featuring models that appear to be 25 years of age and below which according to the advertising code is prohibited.
To defend itself, the British American Tobacco (BAT) said that its online communication team was only trying to impart important and accurate information about their products but stopped short of indirect or direct promotion or advertising. BAT further remarked that the Vype Instagram account used to post the ad prior to this time did not allow underage users and has clearly stated that its e-cigarettes contained nicotine. The company went further to reveal that Vype used its account to interact with users as well as answer questions asked by these users. It is also used to share factual information with adult smokers and vapers, BAT reiterates.
To debunk the claim of BAT, the Chief Executive of ASH, Deborah Arnott claims that the law concerning the promotion of nicotine-containing vapers is clear and that the company's defence of just sharing information to their users does not hold water. Mrs. Arnott went further to state that the ruling of the ASA is enough proof that BAT's social media strategy in collaboration with Vype is both unlawful and very irresponsible and must not be repeated at all cost.
photo from https://vapesquare.com
Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) Ruling on the Post
According to the ruling of the ASA, posts like this should never be seen again in their real form. The ruling also informed the companies involved that all posts about products containing nicotine should not appear on Instagram or any other social media platform in the future except specific measures are taken in the future to ensure that social media users under the age of 18 do not see these posts. In addition to this, the ruling further states that even when these measures are taken, models or celebrities used for these ads must be above the age of 25.
How the Companies Saw ASAs Ruling?
While some of the other companies involved like BAT tried to defend their actions, Global Vaping Group accepts that it could be said that their post may have violated advertising laws and it had involved more than sharing factual information to their users. Global Vaping Group further states that it was quite difficult to verify the age of the models used for the ad. Attitude Vape, on the other hand, did not respond to the ruling of the ASA but has been told by the regulatory body that in the future it would have to respond accordingly. Ama Vape, the fourth company, involved in this ad said that it had the post removed and has taken steps to review its social media content guidelines.
photo from https://filtermag.org
Instagram's Stance on Tobacco Promotion Ads
The spokesperson of the Instagram social media platform while speaking to people about this ad revealed that prior to having the ad posted on the site, Instagram was trying to update its rules that the posting and promotion of ads of tobacco products and vapes will not be allowed. The parent company of Instagram, Facebook also stated that earlier this year, it reviewed its policy to restrict the promotion of organic content that either depict or clearly show the sale of tobacco products to users that are under the age of 18. The social media platform further revealed that it is currently updating its branded content policies to ensure that the paid promotion of these tobacco and vaping products are restricted.
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