Why Haven't Tobacco Brands Lit Up On Facebook?

Stubbing out tobacco advertising offline would prompt brands to move their messages to Facebook -- but why haven't they embraced social media already?

Major tobacco companies would fire up Facebook pages if New Zealand stubs out cigarette advertising.

That’s the gist of a New Zealand Ministry of Health report called “Better Retail Controls On Tobacco,” written by the agency’s Deputy Director General Margie Apa.

According to the 19-page report:

There is also a risk that tobacco companies will divert their marketing efforts into unregulated channels, such as internet social networks and product placement in entertainment media, such as Facebook, YouTube, films and video games. Such marketing efforts would not need to be conducted within New Zealand.

Apo’s assertion becomes much more interesting when you proceed to look for tobacco brands on Facebook good luck with that.

The only things you’ll find on the social network that has anything to do with smoking are pages touting small local tobacco shops, plus groups and communities that want people to quit.

So how come tobacco companies haven’t taken their messages to Facebook and other social media sites? Does the site reject ads and pages created by these brands?

Perhaps this reflects the restrictions tobacco advertising in the U.S., as enacted into law during the earlier part of the Obama Administration. However, cigarette companies have websites that promote themselves. Perhaps these brands have so far kept their butts off of Facebook because of their readings into customer demographics.

Readers, why do you suppose that major tobacco brands don’t have presences on Facebook — and if they were to begin doing so, what would you expect to see?