The new age of tobacco marketing: Imagery on social media
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Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Health Policy, Canada
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A474
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While many areas of tobacco marketing have been restricted, the rise of digital and social media has presented an opportunity for new marketing avenues. This study looked at celebrity social media culture and its contribution to tobacco marketing.
- Assess the prevalence of such marketing.
- Assess who is being targeted, which audience segments.
- Determine what types of tobacco products are being marketed.
- Analyze themes or frames used to make these products appealing.

Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assess the celebrity social media setting. The top 10 global celebrity personalities were included for assessment. Only Instagram accounts were included as sources for data collection. Instagram posts were reviewed for imagery of tobacco products, content, and audience targets. From this data a thematic analysis was conducted to assess frames and narratives used within marketing tactics. Review of social media posts was limited to a 3 year time frame starting October 1, 2014 and ending September 30, 2017.

Tobacco related marketing remains present on social media within the celebrity culture. Many of the top 10 followed celebrities had portrayals of tobacco embedded within their profile and/or posts. Young females are overtly targeted and traditional themes such as fashion, glamour, fun, sex appeal and free-will continue to be used as marketing frames.

These findings demonstrate the need for intervention to monitor and restrict tobacco related marketing on social media. While it's difficult to determine the source of tobacco marketing social media (industry placed or without paid placement) it warrants a discussion about influence of the celebrity and digital cultures on health behaviours. In the absence of regulation, celebrities should be considerate and responsible for the harmful imagery shared over social media.

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