Facebook & Instagram Now Limiting Tobacco Content
I think anyone even remotely connected to the cigar industry knew this was coming. During the last week of July, CNN broke the story that tech giant, Facebook, would be tightening its policy on tobacco and alcohol content. The new policies also trickle down to its subsidiary, Instagram. CNN reported that a spokeswoman from Facebook revealed the new policy “will prohibit all private sales, trades, transfers and gifting of alcohol and tobacco products.” This includes vaping and e-cigarettes.
The new policy is not just relegated to individual members or businesses, but also includes Facebook Groups as well. While Facebook has previously maintained a strict policy towards the sale of alcohol or tobacco on platforms like Facebook marketplace, the new policy will now extend to posts by individual users. Age restrictions are now in place to prevent brands from targeting the under-18 demographic from sales or “transfer” content.
CNN also reported, however, that “Facebook and Instagram users, including those under 18, are still free to post other content related to tobacco and vape products.” Other aspects of scrutiny relate to “influencer” activity on both platforms; however, changes in policy targeting influencers are still under consideration. Influencers are users that are viewed as largely credible, typically have a large following and are paid by companies to promote their brands and products.
Facebook has denied the policy change timing is related to the Congressional hearings (the same week) surrounding JUUL and the vaping epidemic. The CNN investigation into JUUL is quite disturbing, and in our opinion, minors and even young adults should never, ever be targeted with nicotine-based products or alternatives.
OPINION: So, will the cigar industry feel this? Unfortunately, behaviors and actions outside the cigar industry have once again drawn unwarranted attention to its own practices, and intentional or not, this artisanal culture has been piled onto the heap of bad actors. Not only has the cigar industry gone to great lengths to not target any one group, trade organizations like CRA, PCA (formerly IPCPR) and even our own FDA have demonstrated, using empirical data, that not only are our youth NOT being targeted by cigar makers, they’re overall not the least bit interested in premium cigars.
Social media outlets have been a boon to individuals and businesses alike. Successful promotion of one’s business through social media includes encouraging engagement and spreading awareness about one’s products, services, business and/or website. Strategies such as offering free trials, employing contests and give-a-ways, or just extending gifts as tokens of appreciation should not be universally quashed because of a few bad apples. – In Fumo Pax!