Sponsored: The Tobacco Industry’s… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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With social media’s near-ubiquitous use, especially among youth, it comes as no surprise that tobacco companies are exploiting the reach of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to market addictive products.

The world’s largest tobacco companies have spent decades perfecting the art of targeting young people. Now, Big Tobacco is taking this deadly playbook online, using the same marketing tactics to reach kids and young people – from lifestyle marketing campaigns that associate tobacco products with freedom and youth to paying trendsetters to sell their addictive brands to new users. The result is that Big Tobacco is reaching an unlimited audience of mostly young people to promote their brands and re-normalize addictive products on social media.

Using a combination of influencer marketing, paid advertisements and branded pages or accounts, tobacco companies have left no stone unturned in deploying their deadly marketing playbook on social media. To date, Big Tobacco’s social media campaigns have amassed billions of views.

Tobacco companies are advertising products on social media in four main ways:

1. Paid Social Influencer Content: Influencers around the world are being paid to promote the use of e-cigarettes, tobacco products and nicotine pouches to millions of followers.

2. Parties and Events: Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are hosting offline events designed to promote their brands – and designed to end up on social media. Partygoers, influencers and celebrities are encouraged to share hashtags, photos and products online so that offline events can spread through social media.

3. Contests and Online Promotions: Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are enticing followers to participate in contests (e.g., win a trip to Monaco) by sharing, reposting or creating original content that promotes e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches or tobacco products.

4. Brand Pages: Tobacco companies maintain pages on platforms like Instagram and Facebook that are dedicated to directly promoting tobacco, e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches to social media users. These pages often promote the latest flashy marketing campaigns from the world’s largest multinational tobacco companies and can be easily accessed by users of all ages.

Public health authorities agree that exposure to marketing of addictive products causes youth to start and keep using tobacco and nicotine products. Big Tobacco’s use of social media represents a huge threat to global progress in driving down rates of tobacco use.