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New Zealand’s (NZ) recently enacted vaping legislation imposes R18 sales restrictions (Section 40), prohibits advertising and sponsorship of vaping products (with some minor exceptions) (Sections 23 and 28) and bans specific sales promotions (Section 33)1 (see online supplemental file 1 for a timeline of the enactment of the law’s provisions). Yet despite these provisions, vaping and tobacco companies still use social media to stimulate co-created content, reward referrals and maintain associations with youth-oriented events, such as music festivals.
Stimulating content and rewarding referrals
Companies encourage engagement by inviting comments on flavours, nicotine content and store location, and by asking lifestyle questions (see online supplemental file 2). Posted comments, and tags linked to friends or brands, create third-party endorsement, extend reach and may recruit new followers (see online supplemental files 3 and 4).
Social media algorithms can further expand reach. The extensive use of tagging and hashtags (eg, #giveaway) on Instagram by its users may reach people who do not follow vaping or tobacco companies’ social media pages and draw them into content they did not seek out. Philip Morris New Zealand Limited(PMI (NZ)) used their IQOS NZ Instagram page to encourage people to follow @iqos_nz, like the …
Contributors CC proposed the initial analysis and collected examples shown in the manuscript. JH reviewed the examples and developed the manuscript. LR critically reviewed the 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.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.