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Experts Say British American Tobacco circumventing ad ban by using Instagram models

In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority banned e-cigarette-makers from paying influencers to promote their products on Instagram. British American Tobacco has maintained its marketing is targeted at adult smokers. Since the policy changes, experts say BAT is now running its own accounts that mirror the youth-oriented content promoted by influencers, using models posing under red lights or at festivals.

BAT runs a number of pages globally to promote e-cigarette brands such as Vype and heated-cigarette brands like Glo. It is also promoting hashtags on Instagram such as #vypefriends, #vypelife and #teretoaprobarlo, which means “I dare you to try it” in Spanish.

“Tobacco companies like British American Tobacco maintain that their marketing is only ever targeted to and intended for current adult smokers. Yet much of the content posted from these BAT-run accounts mirrors the youth-oriented content promoted by influencers,” said Caroline Renzulli, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Renzulli noted that since the ban on influencer content they had seen the increased use of pages and accounts run directly by BAT “to circumvent the new policies”.

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