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Over 100 Organizations Call on Social Media Companies to End Nicotine Pouch Advertising, Including by Paid Influencers

October 26, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is joining more than 100 public health and other organizations from 53 countries in calling on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to immediately end the promotion of nicotine pouches on their platforms, including prohibiting paid promotion by influencers.  

A letter sent to the CEOs of these companies describes how tobacco companies like British American Tobacco are using social media to market highly addictive nicotine pouches like Velo to millions of social media users worldwide. The marketing content often features young, high-profile influencers engaged in sports activities, suggesting nicotine pouches promote a healthy, active lifestyle. On Instagram, British American Tobacco has implied that Velo can be used to keep teeth white. In several instances, influencers offer special “promo codes” to followers to promote the sale of nicotine pouches on social media platforms, according to the letter. 

On Facebook and Instagram, British American Tobacco uses dozens of accounts to promote Velo with hashtags like #YouveGotVelo. According to analysis from Klear, a social listening platform, dozens of influencers are using the hashtag to promote Velo to a potential audience of more than 530 million people – more than 40 percent of which is under the age of 24, the letter states. 

According to the letter, content promoting nicotine pouches is not explicitly prohibited by any of the platforms’ current advertising policies. The letter urges the social media companies to immediately update their existing policies on tobacco advertising to prohibit tobacco companies from targeting young people with advertisements for nicotine pouches. 

“For years, tobacco companies have used social media platforms to advertise highly addictive products to young people,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Social media platforms have a responsibility to protect their users from the predatory marketing tactics of Big Tobacco – it’s time for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to end their complicity in Big Tobacco’s campaign to addict the next generation.”

In May 2019, more than 125 organizations called on social media companies to address the rampant use of influencer marketing by tobacco companies to advertise cigarettes, heated cigarettes and e-cigarettes online. Several recent updates to policies made by social media companies regarding tobacco advertising have included bans on the use of influencer marketing to promote tobacco products, but do not include the promotion of nicotine pouches.To date, Snapchat is the only social media platform that clearly bans the promotion of tobacco and nicotine products in its published policies.