Hidden Tobacco Marketing on Social Media Uncovered in a Report


eMediNexus    17 December 2022

Approximately 29% of the adult (15+) population still uses tobacco, despite the reduction in tobacco use across the country. In India, there are strong policies restricting tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, yet "surrogate marketing" is being used on traditional media channels to indirectly promote unregulated tobacco products, such as pan masala, etc.


A report released on Friday, titled "Hidden in Plain Sight: Surrogate Marketing of Tobacco Products on Social Media in India," offered a look at surrogate marketing on social media platforms. The report captured and analyzed more than 2,000 posts collected between January and May 2022 that indirectly promote tobacco. It was seen that 12% of the posts promoted tobacco through surrogate marketing.


The key findings of the reports were that out of 2,111 instances of online tobacco marketing, more than 90% were for tobacco companies’ allied products, including surrogate products and brand-extended products. These findings also highlighted 243 instances of online surrogate marketing (12%), 1,691 instances of company brand extension marketing (80%), and 8% of other instances that were directly marketing tobacco products. The report also revealed that three-fourths (75%) of the online surrogate marketing was observed on meta platforms (Facebook and Instagram).


Additionally, it was also observed that these surrogate marketing ideas leveraged cultural festivities and featured celebrities. All surrogate marketing promoted mouth fresheners and pan masala products as smokeless tobacco products (100%) while, in 98% of the cases, the product included a clear product picture and the tobacco company’s logo. 


(Source: https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/new-report-uncovers-hidden-tobacco-marketing-on-social-media/96265622 )

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