** British American Tobacco (BAT) is pinning its hopes on younger users of e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. BAT has embarked on a £1 billion campaign that harnesses the popular appeal of social media influencers, pop stars and sporting events. TikTok videos featuring attractive young people promoting BAT’s nicotine pouches, under the brand names Velo and Lyft, seem to have gone down particularly well with youngsters.
Critics say that such viral videos, even if they are not paid-for adverts, result from a global marketing push designed to offset dwindling cigarette consumption by recruiting the future’s nicotine consumers. According to a Bureau of Investigative Journalism report, it has also attracted younger adults, non-smokers and even children. An employee of a public relations firm engaged by BAT in Kenya was so concerned about the bureau’s report into its marketing practices that they offered a reporter a bribe for inside information about it.
In the US and Europe, BAT has told regulators that nicotine products are intended to help adult smokers replace cigarettes. That is somewhat at odds with a slide from a 2019 presentation to investors entitled “Nicotine consumer pool continues to grow.” It shows that the number of nicotine users was falling until 2012, before rebounding strongly. The slide boasts of “8m NGP [next-generation product] consumers added in 2017.” The company certainly seems to be after new nicotine users, rather than just people quitting smoking.
Its marketing campaign for Velo in Pakistan, using the hashtag #openthecan on Facebook and Instagram, used 40 influencers, garnering more than 13 million views. In Spain, a campaign for BAT’s heated tobacco product Glo has been fronted by boy band Dvicio, via Instagram and a series of concerts. The “boys” are all in their late 20s or early 30s, but were last year’s summer cover stars for tween magazine Like! And in Pakistan, brand representatives working on commission, handed out samples at parties, shopping malls, tea shops and tobacconists. One 17-year-old in Pakistan told the bureau they were offered a free sample without being asked for ID.
Taylor Billings of Corporate Accountability said social media campaigns were bound to reach a young audience. She said: “The tobacco industry is too well resourced for things to be a coincidence. They are not accidentally placing shiny adverts on a platform that have a vast percentage of its users as Gen Z or young millennials.”
Source: The Guardian, 20 February 2021
See also: The bureau of Investigative Journalism - New products, old tricks? Concerns big tobacco is targeting youngsters. ([link removed])
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** Parents will be fined £100 for smoking in playgrounds and outside the school gates from 1 March 2021. The stringent new fines are being introduced in Wales to “denormalise smoking” for children.
Parents and carers – including childminders – will be banned from smoking while waiting for their kids in outdoor areas, including hospital entrances.
The new measure will also stop homeowners from smoking while they have workers on their property. Smoking will also be banned in self-contained holiday cottages, caravans and Airbnbs precisely a year later. The ban will not apply to e-cigarettes or vaping.
Welsh Government minister, Baroness Eluned Morgan, believes the measure will reduce the number of young people taking up smoking and save lives. She said: “We know the harms smoking can do to health, and so we’re introducing these new requirements for the benefit of future generations. Banning smoking outside hospitals and places where children and young people spend their time, such as public playgrounds and school grounds, will denormalise smoking and reduce the chances of children and young people starting smoking in the first place. We are proud to be the first part of the UK to outlaw smoking in these areas and once again leading the way.”
** Police have seized more than 110,000 packets of illegal cigarettes and suspected Class B drugs worth an estimated £200,000. A 43-year-old man was arrested when a vehicle was stopped in south Belfast’s Ormeau area on Thursday,11th February.
Officers believe the cigarettes were smuggled into Northern Ireland. They were found along with cash and the drugs during follow-up searches in south Belfast and Tandragee, County Armagh.
Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said the discoveries are part of the police’s “commitment to removing dangerous drugs and harmful substances from our communities, thwarting the efforts of those criminals who are intent on profiting from the detrimental effects drug use causes in communities.”
Source: BBC News, 12 February 2021
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