Instagram is a visual place. So-called influencers show us their latest holiday snaps, posed and filtered, and share recommendations of products they love. So, it’s no surprise to learn that vaping products have been among the items promoted on the social media site.
However, some products cannot be advertised on social media, in line with advertising rules and regulations. One such product is electronic cigarettes. Hence why four vaping companies had their wrists slapped at the end of 2019 after breaking that advertising rule.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a series of posts published by four major companies, including British American Tobacco and Attitude Vapes. The Global Vaping Group and Ama Vape were also reprimanded following the complaint. Several ads were taken down from Instagram as a result.
Instagram steps forward with a blanket ban
It was perhaps to be expected that Instagram would have something to say following the ruling by the ASA. They released a blog post pointing out that advertising tobacco-related products and vaping supplies had always been prohibited on Instagram. However, they went further to say enforcement of this was going to begin (presumably rather than expecting people to simply adhere to their rules).
Is this a good move?
We think so. While vaping is seen as one of the most successful methods to help people quit smoking, the use of models and singers appealing to a young audience while advertising vaping products is questionable at best. British American Tobacco stated its posts intended to share ‘factual information’ and did not promote those products. However, it is difficult to see how this could be the case when the products were seen in the images.
The influence of Instagram… and beyond
Instagram is an influential place – there’s no getting around that. The same applies to Facebook and other social media sites. So, tightening the rules around advertising makes good sense.
While smokers regularly try vaping as an alternative that could help them quit the habit, there is a fear that young people could take up vaping as a safer option. Research does not support this idea, but there is a risk that seeing vaping products promoted on Instagram and beyond could be viewed as attractive.
Do you agree with the tougher stance on banning vaping ads from Instagram and similar sites? Let us know what you think – leave a comment below.