ASH Daily News for 29 November 2019


  • British American Tobacco expands Formula 1 sponsorship
  • Four children’s deaths linked to smoking at home and during pregnancy in County Durham and Darlington


  • Hazy regulations on vaping could obscure ad violations

Link of the Week

  • Cochrane Review: Mobile phone text messaging and app‐based interventions for smoking cessation


British American Tobacco expands Formula 1 sponsorship

British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) is expanding its sponsorship of the McLaren Formula One team next year to boost marketing of cigarette alternatives. McLaren will provide more promotional spots on its cars next year and BAT will also be a partner for the team as it returns to full-time IndyCar competitions in the US.

Restrictions in several Formula One racing locations forced McLaren to strip BAT labels for Vype and Vuse vaping products from the cars this season. In March, the World Health Organization urged member countries to ban tobacco advertising when hosting or broadcasting Formula One events. BAT left Formula One more than a decade ago when the European Union began restricting tobacco advertising in sporting events.

Philip Morris International quietly kept sponsoring Scuderia Ferrari but took its brand logos off the vehicles. Last year Ferrari cars and uniforms at some races started to display the slogan “Mission Winnow.” Philip Morris says it created the program to highlight new initiatives and spur discussion rather than promoting specific products, but it was barred from some Formula One races. BAT said it will introduce the Vuse vaping brand outside the US this weekend at the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Next year McLaren cars will also display the brand of its Velo oral-nicotine products.

Source: Bloomberg, 28 November 2019

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Four children’s deaths linked to smoking at home and during pregnancy in County Durham and Darlington

Smoking at home and during pregnancy has been linked to the deaths of four children in County Durham and Darlington, according to an annual report presented to the county council’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

The cases, which were all reviewed by council chiefs last year (2018/19), identified tobacco use as a possible factor in the tragedies. “Smoking in pregnancy is one of the areas which has come out [of the annual report],” said Gill O’Neill, Durham County Council’s Deputy Director of Public Health, adding that “[The council] is highlighting the importance of tobacco dependency, a modifiable factor which could prevent future deaths of children.”

Source: Chronicle Live, 28 November 2019

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Hazy regulations on vaping could obscure ad violations

Ashleigh Furlong writes in Politico on the tobacco industry’s evolving digital marketing methods:

“The question is simple enough: Does the EU allow e-cigarettes to be marketed on social media? ‘Feeling Vype af,’ wrote German actress Bonnie Strange in an Instagram post that features her posing at a festival with a wisp of smoke trailing from her lips. Strange is just one of many influencers in Europe promoting vaping products like Vype, produced by British American Tobacco (BAT). This proliferation of marketing across social media makes it easy to assume that the paid promotion of vaping products is perfectly lawful. But anti-smoking groups are leading the charge against these campaigns, arguing they contravene EU rules. They cite a 2014 EU directive that prohibits most advertising of electronic cigarettes — and charge that vaping giants are skirting the rules in an area where enforcement is difficult.

“One major controversy these days concerns BAT, which is expecting an imminent decision from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority on whether its use of social media to promote Vype electronic cigarettes breaches UK regulations. That ruling could soon provide at least one concrete answer to the question. The UK case, brought by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is being closely watched because regulations in Britain are merely an implementation — at least until Britain quits the EU — of the broader EU directive that all member states are obliged to enforce.
Separately, the European Commission will also be revisiting at its own directive, which sets out rules for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes for member states. By May 2021, it’s due to publish a report assessing the directive and, in particular, considering market developments in e-cigarettes.

“[…] Underscoring much of the uncertainty is the EU’s requirement that member states prohibit commercial communications of e-cigarettes in “information society services.” These services are defined under three criteria: They must be provided “at a distance,” “by electronic means” and at the “individual request of a recipient of services.” Anti-tobacco campaigners believe these terms are simple, and that they apply to social media as well. “It’s the internet, and the internet is information society services, and advertising on the internet is banned,” said Anca Toma Friedlaender, director of Smoke Free Partnership.

“The EU’s DG Sante offered POLITICO a less straightforward take: Information society services could include social media sites and would therefore banned, but only if the sites fulfill the EU’s three criteria. Guidance on how to interpret the U.K.’s advertising code is similarly vague. It says that “paid social media placements, advertisement features and contextually targeted branded content” for electronic cigarettes are, or are likely to be, prohibited. But it also notes that vaping companies…may post factual information about a product on their websites. And some social media activity could also fall under this guideline.

“[…] The debate gets even murkier when it comes to influencers who promote products through their own posts. On platforms such as Instagram, for example, individuals may post images that include e-cigarettes. And while outright advertisements aren’t allowed, a website, brand or store can promote the sale of their products, provided these campaigns are restricted to adults. On Instagram, brands can choose to “age-gate,” which automatically blocks underage users from viewing their content. Deborah Arnott, Action on Smoking and Health’s chief executive, said influencers are “an obvious gray area” where more work should be done. “The industry will push where the regulations aren’t black and white, where there’s an obvious gray area,” she said, citing the example of the debate over plain packaging, which is now required in Europe for conventional cigarettes. “They will push further than the rules allow until they’re stopped from getting away with it.”

“[…] Campaigners, however, claim that these marketing campaigns are reaching teenagers — and companies such as BAT are violating their own marketing principles, which state they won’t use influencers who are under 25. Amid this criticism, Philip Morris suspended its social media campaign earlier this after Reuters journalists reported that the company used young influencers to market their products.”

Source: Politico, 28 November 2019

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Link of the Week

Cochrane Review: Mobile phone text messaging and app‐based interventions for smoking cessation

Cochrane have recently published an update to their review of mobile phone interventions for smoking cessation.

Key messages from the author’s conclusions include that:

  • There is moderate evidence that automated text message‐based smoking cessation interventions result in greater quit rates than minimal smoking cessation support
  • There is evidence that the combination of text messaging interventions and other smoking cessation support is more effective than with that smoking cessation support alone
  • More evidence is needed for app-based interventions

See Review

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