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New Facebook/Instagram Policy on Tobacco Marketing Must Be Immediately Implemented and Strictly Enforced

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Facebook and Instagram today announced new policies that signaled the platforms may finally address influencer marketing of tobacco and e-cigarettes – a strategy widely used by tobacco companies on social media to skirt advertising laws and market deadly products around the world. 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.

Updates to Facebook and Instagram policies on influencer marketing are desperately needed. In country after country, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco have paid influencers to flood Instagram and Facebook with ads for cigarettes like Marlboro and Lucky Strike, and heated cigarettes like IQOS and Glo.

In the U.S., Juul has fueled a youth e-cigarette epidemic, driven by the company’s “patently youth-oriented” social media advertising. In the absence of meaningful policies from social media companies, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become an advertising haven for Big Tobacco and e-cigarette companies alike.

The announcement from Facebook and Instagram comes on the same day that the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority announced it had banned British American Tobacco and three other e-cigarette makers from using public Instagram accounts to advertise to consumers in the UK.

It is imperative that Facebook and Instagram not only swiftly enact these policy changes, but also see that they are strictly enforced. It is also crucial that platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube follow suit to ensure that no door is left open for tobacco companies to target kids and young people on social media. Tobacco companies have spent decades targeting kids – social media companies must not be complicit in this strategy.