The vaping industry just ran into another setback, days after several US states banned or restricted their sales. This time, Instagram is blocking vaping and tobacco companies from setting ads up on their platform.
Instagram's parent company Facebook has long banned tobacco and vaping brands themselves from advertising on their platforms. However, a loophole was soon discovered: these companies could get influencers to advertise for them as influencers were not covered by Facebook's rules. This is all changing soon as Facebook is tightening its rules, making sure that influencers cannot promote content that is the same as the companies are banned from (besides vaping and tobacco, guns are also included here).
As per Instagram's statement on their business blog: "Branded content that promotes goods such as vaping, tobacco products and weapons will not be allowed. Our advertising policies have long prohibited the advertisement of these products, and we will begin enforcement on this in the coming weeks."
Instagram has also started implementing restrictions on certain other items, such as alcohol and dietary supplements. However, the details as to what these restrictions are are unknown as of the moment.
Branded Content Expansion
In the same blog post, Instagram also noted that Facebook's Brand Collabs Manager is coming to Instagram as well. While the initial launch is only limited to a select few Instagram users at the start, it is expected to roll out to everyone soon enough.
The Brand Collabs Manager allows brands to look for possible partners for content creation. They can filter out creators by content, location, demographics, and target audience to be able to partner up with the perfect content creator for their campaign. Content creators can also use the tool to find "They can source new deals, manage partnerships, and automatically share insights."
Earlier this year, Instagram rolled out "branded content ads," which let influencers and brands partner up to create sponsored content posts. These posts were turned into ads that allowed them to reach a larger audience. These branded content ads appeared on feed and in stories and looked like regular ads. However, they are labeled as "paid partnership" alongside the brand that's sponsoring the ad.
A timely restriction
Instagram's most recent banning comes along the same time the UK-based watchdog Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned four vaping companies for advertising vaping products on public Instagram pages. The four companies were British American Tobacco, Ama Vape, Attitude Vapes, and Global Vaping Group.
British American Tobacco said that their ad was "aimed to impart factual information regarding products but stopped short of direct or indirect promotion." However, the ASA rejected this claim.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids welcomed the decision by the ASA. In a statement they said the following:
"While the ASA ruling is great news, urgent policy change is needed from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to prevent BAT and other tobacco companies from using social media to advertise their harmful products to young people around the world,"