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PMI in possible breach of advertising law

19 Nov 2020. A series of articles sponsored by the tobacco giant on the website of The Australian newspaper could breach national tobacco advertising laws, reports the Guardian.

Public health advocates and anti-smoking campaigners have drawn attention to the articles, which they say are trying to weaken bans on e-cigarettes and other e-products.

“ACOSH believes these sponsored articles are advertising and clearly breach Australia’s national tobacco advertising and promotion laws,” said Maurice Swanson, chief executive of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

“They are part of a broader PR campaign by Philip Morris to undermine Australia’s cautionary approach to the regulation of heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Philip Morris is simply diversifying its range of nicotine products to ensure continuing addiction and maintain its profitability.”

Australia is notoriously strict when it comes to the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and other products and their sale is illegal throughout Australia with possession illegal everywhere but in South Australia.

According to the Guardian, Philip Morris International (PMI) has paid News Corp Australia a significant sum of money to run four online articles in the guise of science features as part of an international campaign to change tobacco restriction laws.

In the articles, which are labelled “sponsored content for Philip Morris International”, PMI says that the strict laws in Australia are making it hard for smokers to quit and that access to alternatives are barely given.