Reuters reports that a group of more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations have sent letters to Facebook (and Instagram), Twitter and Snap urging them to take "swift action" to corral the advertising of tobacco and nicotine-containing products on their platforms.
The groups cited a May 10 Reuters article about a global social media campaign sponsored by Philip Morris International (PM +0.1%) using young online personalities to promote its "heated tobacco" device despite its internal "marketing standards" prohibiting the marketing of tobacco products with youth-oriented celebrities or models that appear to be younger than 25 years old. The exposure prompted the company to suspend the campaign and launch an internal investigation into the matter, adding that it was "deeply disappointed" over the breach of policy.
There are no laws prohibiting online tobacco or e-cig marketing, but social media firms supposedly have policies aimed at curbing it. Apparently, using online personalities was a loophole in those policies.
Instagram and parent Facebook say that they are "studying" the issue. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the use of influencers while Snap did not respond to requests for comment.
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