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Tobacco industry exploiting International Women’s Day on social media
  1. Daniel Hunt1,
  2. Marita Hefler2,
  3. Becky Freeman3
  1. 1 Independent Researcher, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Tobacco Control Research Program, Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Disease Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Casuarina, Northern Territory, Australia
  3. 3 Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Daniel Hunt, Independent Researcher, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; danielhuntuk{at}

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The Twitter accounts of two of the world’s largest tobacco companies, @InsidePMI (Philip Morris International) and @BATPress (British American Tobacco) posted multiple tweets in March 2019 celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) and the International Week of Women, using the hashtags #IWD2019 and #BalanceForBetter (see figures 1–3). #BalanceForBetter was the official campaign theme of IWD 2019, which aims to ‘build a gender-balanced world’.1 This hashtag was used to amplify IWD content on social media.

Figure 1

Philip Morris International tweet dated 04 March 2019 using the hashtags #BalanceForBetter and #IWD2019. IWD, International Women’s Day.

Figure 2

Philip Morris International tweet dated 06 March 2019 using the hashtags #BalanceForBetter and #IWD2019. IWD, International Women’s Day.

Figure 3

British American Tobacco tweet dated 08 March 2019 using the hashtags #BalanceForBetter and #IWD2019. BAT, British American Tobacco; IWD, International Women’s Day.

These tweets draw on the themes of women’s equality, gender empowerment and equal pay. Accordingly, this attempt to embrace women’s equality is the latest example of how tobacco industry marketing has sought to use emerging cultural contexts and reference points to build positive associations with smoking as a feminist act.2 The media channels may have changed, but the strategy is the same: …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the drafting and editing of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.