Tobacco adverts are prohibited throughout the European Union, however the number of cigarette ads in social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook is growing. According to health experts tobacco companies also increasingly use summer youth music festivals to promote their products and turn younger adults and teenagers into smoking.
Many music festivals held across the United Kingdom signed sponsorship deals with tobacco companies and agreements to install stands with their tobacco products. Lovebox festival, one of the biggest open-air events in the UK was partially sponsored by Rizla tobacco-rolling paper, a division of Imperial Tobacco which is not covered by the tobacco advertisement ban. According to Imperial Tobacco communications manager, sponsoring festivals is a legal activity, so the company believes they can use such events for promoting their products.
Another major music festival held last summer in Suffolk featured stands with Marlboro cigarettes. The organizers of the event signed partnership deal with Philip Morris International, so only Marlboro cigarettes were sold in the festival, with sales carried out by attractive girls wearing “Marlboro-featured” dresses and skirts. In addition, this year’s edition will feature similar partnership deal, this time with Imperial Tobacco.
The UK division of Japan Tobacco International also used music festivals for promoting its key brands Benson and Hedges, Camel and Silk Cut. These brands were selling at five large and brightly-illuminated stands and featured gift boxes with two cartons of cigarettes, a lighter and glow stick.
Action on Smoking and Health President Deborah Arnott criticized tobacco giants, saying that the tobacco companies are eager to attract new smokers, because their current audience either give up smoking or die prematurely.
She said that smokers tend to start their habit in their adolescence, so tobacco industry made a clever choice by starting sponsoring youth-oriented festivals. Whereas the majority of existing forms of advertising tobacco products are banned in the UK, tobacco companies found a loophole permitting them to promote their products among teenagers, added ASH president.
The recent nationwide survey completed by ASH demonstrated that 60% of adults who have children want laws banning tobacco ads during music festivals. So, the organization is planning to encourage the parliament to amend current tobacco-advertisement restrictions.
In addition to festivals, tobacco companies also use social networks to promote their products in cyberspace. According o a research by Sidney University scientists, the employees of major tobacco companies are creating fan groups of certain cigarette brands, and joining smokers’ communities registered in Facebook and promoting their products there.
In the meantime, according to several sources, tobacco companies operating in the UK have agreed to initiate legal proceeding to overturn the ban on which was approved by previous UK government.