Social networking sites marketing tobacco products to youngsters..

October 7, 2009 - Tobacco companies are using legal loopholes to market products on social networking sites including Facebook and MySpace targeting young smokers.

Advertising restrictions on cigarette giants are forcing companies to become savvier in the way they reach consumers.

Fan clubs and unofficial product pages endorsing Marlboro, Benson and Hedges and Lucky Strike are now appearing on social networks, and have the ability to redirect users to the product's website, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Cancer Council Australia has called on the Federal Government to intervene and ensure the sites are pulled down.

Tobacco companies have denied officially setting up Facebook and Myspace pages. But experts said it was difficult controlling the stealth internet advertising with regulation a global problem. "It needs to be brought to the Government's attention because they have been very good at restricting tobacco advertising," Professor Ian Olver from the Cancer Council said. "Now we have this whole new media that can be used and needs to be looked at because it can get a huge number of people, particularly young people."

Marlboro has 5058 followers on Facebook while Benson and Hedges also uses the social
networking site. Welcome to the official Facebook Page of ***Marlboro Black Menthol...

University of Sydney researcher Becky Freeman has been studying the proliferation of tobacco companies using the internet as a marketing tool. "One of the most innovative marketing strategies was by the Camel brand, which engaged the online community to help design a new packet," she said.

Reference: Tobacco companies using social networking to target young by Kate Sikora, The Daily Telegraph, 10/7/2009.

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BAT Marketing Tobacco Products Using Text Messaging...

***Marlboro Black Menthol was launched last August 2008 in Japan, where it has become our most successful new launch ever in this important market. It has achieved a 1.0% share of market and has enabled the Marlboro brand family to resume its growth, reaching a 10.4% market share in the first quarter of this year. Given the success of Marlboro Black Menthol in Japan, it was launched during the first quarter in Hong Kong and Indonesia. (PMI - 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, May 5, 2009..)