No Love For BAT

Posted 29th April 2019 by Dave Cross
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products (STOP) have reported British American Tobacco (BAT) to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The complaint stems from alleged breaches of regulations due to BAT’s promotion of its Vype e-cigarettes.

ASH says: “The Advertising Standards Authority is investigating BAT’s promotion of its Vype e-cigarette through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. CTFK and ASH have sent evidence to the ASA showing how BAT’s promotions breach the Committee of Advertising Practice Code, and the Advertising Guidance on Electronic Cigarettes.”

CTFK added: BAT is undertaking a concerted, consistent and systematic approach to its online promotion of its Vype nicotine e-cigarettes… outside the Guidance… and… the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR).”

ASH explains: “BAT extends the reach of its Vype advertising on Instagram by pairing hashtags related to significant cultural or popular current events, completely unrelated to Vype or its product features. Recent examples include: #Oscars2019 #bohemianrhapsody; #bestactor; #baftas2019; #ValentinesDay; and #londonfashionweek.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, commented: "We challenged BAT about its irresponsible marketing of Vype at the company's 2019 Annual General Meeting last week, but did not get a satisfactory reply. BAT claims to engage in responsible marketing aimed at adult consumers only. But the evidence submitted to the ASA shows that much of their promotion of Vype gives maximum exposure to children and teenagers. Same old tobacco industry, same old tactics."

Some of the posts in question are related to a “Go Vype” event that took place after the BRIT Awards. Singer Lily Allen played music by popular beat combos as Love Island “celebrities” were pictured using devices or simply standing around demonstrating their wealth of talent.

Love Island’s Instagram feed has two million subscribers and the program hit over four million viewers during the last series on ITV 2 – 52% of the audience for the Love Island finale were 16-34 year-olds.

Lily Allen became the “face of new Vype x House of Holland collection” in February 2019. According to Grocery Trader: “Vype teamed up with British Fashion Designer Henry Holland to develop a new bespoke collection inspired by the Vype ePen 3. The collection features the singer and songwriter Lily Allen in a series of eye-catching images shot by world renowned photographer, Rankin.”

Speaking about it, Lily Allen commented: “I’m delighted to be partnering with Vype as I’ve been a smoker for a long time now, and smoking and singing don’t go together particularly well, I need alternative.  Having heard about Vype and having seen the collaboration Henry has created with them, I thought I’d give vaping a try. I love the sleek feel and colours of the ePen 3 are really appealing to me, plus it’s light weight and easy to use.”

STOP’s Professor Anna Gilmore said this action, “provides clear evidence that British American Tobacco's is making widespread, yet hidden, use of social media, influencers, and fashion and film-industry awards to promote its Vype product to the largest possible audience. This flies in the face of BAT's claims to support harm reduction, providing further evidence that the company simply cannot be trusted. It is vital that the ASA holds it to account.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker