British American Tabacco (BAT) – a leading producer of cigarettes with operation in over 180 countries has undergone investigation for promoting Vype e-cigarettes on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Based on the evidence documented, UK authorized claims that the promotion especially targeted children, teenagers, and non-nicotine users.
Vype e-cigarettes is a flagship product of BAT launched in 2013 and is now regarded as one of the leading brands of BAT. They promote Vype merchandise on social media platforms through @GoVypeaccounts which also features celebrities and social media influencers. The ads sent the wrong message through the post and were allegedly meant to attract youngsters to consume cigarettes. They also violated UK laws by putting popular hashtags like #throwbackthursday or #style. According to the UK regulations, e-cigarettes containing nicotine are banned from being advertised on Instagram and cannot be marketed to youth under 18 years of age. The laws also ban models who look under 25 to feature in cigarette ads.
BAT is the second largest producer holding 15% market share in the global cigarette market. Their ads allegedly target around 75,000 youngsters annually through an aggressive marketing campaign, by sponsoring music and sports events and social media sites such as YouTube and Flickr. Previously BAT has engaged in similar marketing activities, reports suggest merchandising since August 2018 in more than 40 countries.
ASH UK (Action on Smoking and Health) also challenged BAT about its irresponsible marketing of Vype at the company’s 2019 Annual General Meeting last week, however no satisfactory response was received from BAT on this matter. BAT on the other hand claims that they use appropriate measures while advertising and ensures that promotion targets adult consumers only. However evidence submitted to the ASA reveals that much of their promotion gives maximum exposure to children and teenagers.